Bar Beating Suspect Claims Self Defense - NBC New York

Bar Beating Suspect Claims Self Defense

Pennsylvania man accused of attacking 29-year-old woman in Midtown bathroom



    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. (Published Friday, March 12, 2010)

    The man accused of brutally beating a nurse in a Midtown bathroom because she wouldn't dance with him is reportedly claiming self defense.

    Mbarek Lafrem, a construction worker, was arraigned yesterday on charges of attempted murder, attempted rape and assault. Police say the Lafrem attacked a 29-year-old pediatric nurse from Connecticut in a women's bathroom at the Midtown bar Social, leaving the woman hospitalized with a broken nose, broken jaw and fractures to her eye socket and skull. Doctors performed reconstructive surgery on her this week.

    Court papers say Lafrem told police the woman 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 30-year-old 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 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.

    On Friday the hospital released a statement on behalf of the victim's family saying they wished to "express their sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received." They also said they would not be granting any interviews at this time.

    Midtown regulars were horrified at the news.

    "I was in shock because it's a very nice place,"  said passerby Loren Ellis, who said she occasionally  goes to Social and described the bathroom as like any other. "It could happen anywhere. We have to be careful."