A homeless man who police say has a violent past was charged in an alleged sex assault on a Manhattan block filled with off-campus Columbia University students, authorities say.
The 27-year-old victim was walking into her Morningside Heights apartment building at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when the suspect allegedly followed her into the vestibule and attacked her, police said.
He allegedly fondled her, then knocked her to the ground and tried to remove her underwear before he ran away, according to police.
The victim wasn't hurt and declined medical treatment at the scene, police said.
Police say 27-year-old Allen Taylor, was arrested early Friday and is charged with attempted rape, burglary and sexual abuse in the attack. Details on his prior arrests weren't immediately available, but police sources said they were violent in nature.
The area of the attack, West 113th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, is popular with Columbia students living off campus. The school's public safety department issued an alert campuswide after the attack.
Columbia University grad student Zainie Jamani was startled when she recognized the picture in the email. She'd seen a man matching Taylor's description on the street the night before and said he appeared "pretty drunk and sort of kept turning around and looking back."
"We had one of those situations where he was sort of sidestepping one way, and we were going the other way," she said. "I remember thinking I'm so glad there's a doorman right here."
Another grad student with her at the time, Hannah Abbas, said the street was not even deserted at that time.
"There was a lot of people around," she said.
Columbia junior Cameron Molin said the area is "known for being a comfortable area for a lot of people, nobody really expects anything like that to happen near here."