October 07, 2002

Dropping the Ball

How the Manhattan Dropped the Ball and Framed Black, Latino Teens:

Besides the attack on the jogger, [Matias] Reyes told officials about another incident for which he had not been prosecuted.

On the afternoon of April 17, 1989, a Monday, a woman in her 20's went to do tai chi exercises in an area of Central Park called Fish Fort, off 106th Street. A young man strolled up and began chatting with her. Something in his manner made the woman uncomfortable, she later told detectives, so she moved to leave. Then the man pounced. He beat her face and head, pulled off her clothes and assaulted her sexually until another man, hearing the woman's screams, arrived on the scene. The attacker fled. The woman's injuries were so severe that she was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital and spent at least two nights there, officials said.

While that case received virtually no attention in the news media, one that followed two days later and about two blocks south generated headlines around the world. A 28-year-old investment banker, jogging after work, was dragged from the road, raped, and beaten so badly about the head that she nearly died. She was found in a muddy ravine near 104th Street.

Those two rapes, on April 17 and April 19, were the second and third of the year in the Central Park precinct. The investigation into the April 17 attack was handled by the sex crimes unit of the Police Department. Detectives from another unit, Manhattan North Homicide, oversaw the investigation into the attack on the jogger, because her condition was so grave that officials originally expected that she would not survive.

For reasons that are not clear, investigators say, there is no sign that the information about the April 17 rape was turned over to the detectives handling the attack on the jogger.

Posted by ronn at October 7, 2002 01:25 AM