Suspect in Brutal Nurse Beating: "I Wasn't Myself"

The hardhat accused of a savage attack at a midtown bar speaks

By Michael Clancy
|  Saturday, Mar 20, 2010  |  Updated 9:35 AM EDT
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A construction worker from Pennsylvania was charged Friday with brutally beating and attempting to rape a woman in a restroom at Midtown bar after she rejected his advances.The man, identified as 30-year-old Mbarek Lafrem, of Norwood,  Pa., was charged with assault and attempted rape, chief police spokesman Paul Browne said.

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A construction worker from Pennsylvania was charged Friday with brutally beating and attempting to rape a woman in a restroom at Midtown bar after she rejected his advances.The man, identified as 30-year-old Mbarek Lafrem, of Norwood, Pa., was charged with assault and attempted rape, chief police spokesman Paul Browne said.

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Surveillance Video of Suspect in Social Bar Attack

Police are searching for the man seen leaving the bar Social in this video. He is described as a Hispanic male in his 30s and was wearing blue jeans and a blue plaid button down short sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve gray shirt. He seems to shake his right hand as if he is injured. Police want to question him in a brutal attack that happened at the 48th street bar at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 11.
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The construction worker accused of savage bathroom attack on a nurse who spurned him in a Hells Kitchen bar says "I wasn't myself. I was someody else" that night, according to a jail house interview.

"I remember dancing with her," Mbarek Lafrem told the New York Post in an interview from Rikers Island where he is being held on attempted murder, rape and assault charges. "I remember being in the bathroom with her, and I remember her screaming."

Lafrem first blamed the victim for the attack, saying he hospitalized the 29-year-old pediatric nurse with a broken nose, jaw, skull,  and eye sockets in a case of self defense.  But the 30-year-old hardhat from Pennsylvania expressed some remorse after spending some time in the slammer.

"I wanted to kill myself because she didn’t deserve that," Lafrem told the Post in an emotional jailhouse interview. "I wouldn’t want that to happen to my sisters... I made a mistake."

That's a far cry from his initial statements to police when he said the nurse, who allegedly rejected him on the dancefloor, pushed him first.

"I was at the bar with the girl. I went into the bathroom and she started yelling at me," court papers say Lafrem told police. "She was coming towards me so I grabbed her by the arms. She was trying to push me so I punched her in the face twice and pushed her back into the stall. She fell into the stall and hit her head."

Police initially planned to charge the Moroccan immigrant with assault, but prosecutors upgraded the case because of the victim's injuries.

Lafrem, of Norwood, Pa., had been working at a Midtown construction site and was staying at a hotel near Social, the popular three-story bar and lounge on Eighth Avenue where the brutal attack occurred.

Cops arrested him at the construction site Friday afternoon after co-workers who saw video of Lafrem walking down the sidewalk after the attack called police, Brown said.

The victim told police that she had rebuffed attempts by the man, allegedly Lafrem, to dance with her, said Browne. When she went to the women's restroom on the second floor, he followed her and burst into a stall.

Lafrem allegedly beat the victim until she was unconscious. There was bloody evidence of the attack left in the bathroom, police said. The victim was discovered by a friend went to look for her after she failed to return to the bar. The friend assumed the victim had simply fallen, and had the bartender go across the street to a firehouse to get EMS help.

Later when the victim regained consciousness, she told staff at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center that she had been attacked. It was only then, at 5:30 a.m., when police were finally called in.

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