Police: Search on for suspect in troubling series of sex assaults in Upper Manhattan

Police: Search on for suspect in troubling series of sex assaults in Upper Manhattan

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NEW YORK — Visitors to a popular city park on Wednesday morning were greeted by NYPD teams armed with “Wanted” posters.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello has more on the search for a suspect in a troubling series of sex assaults.

The views are stunning and the atmosphere is friendly, as evidenced by a dog lover leaving a bowl for canine companions near a water fountain.

But now, there has been a sobering addition to Fort Tryon Park in the form of a “Wanted” poster, which was put up by police after they linked a scooter-riding suspect to a total of three sex assaults in Upper Manhattan parks.

“It’s very, very distressing. Why do you want to do that to someone?” Washington Heights resident Lina Duverge said.

Duverge said she is staying alert while walking her dog.

The NYPD is investigating three assaults on female joggers since Sept. 14, all of them taking place in the late morning or early afternoon.

“That is what is so distressing about it. These are hours, people out in the park, people walking their dogs much as I am, and it’s really, really upsetting,” Duverge said.

“Be very cognizant of your surroundings, particularly when these scooters come around. They can zip. That’s why the perpetrators are using them. They zip in and out of traffic. They move quick. They’re very difficult to stop,” NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.

The sex assaults have taken place in the 34th Precinct. Aiello checked CompStat and it revealed the number of rapes has risen this year versus last, from 11 to 18, but the number of “other sex crimes” has fallen almost 30 percent.

In the first two assaults, police say the suspect touched the victims’ buttocks. The incident in Fort Tryon Park on Saturday was more serious. The victim was dragged to a secluded spot, sexually assaulted, punched in the face, and robbed.

Police say the suspect wore a hoodie with lettering on the back that said “Honor Thy Gift.”

Police are asking for help catching the scooter-riding suspect. Anyone with information about any of the incidents asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

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