The NYPD is continuing to search for the man accused of raping and robbing a 24-year-old woman as she entered NYU's Catholic Center Thursday morning. Officials released a statement asking for the public's assistance in identifying the suspect, a man believed to be in his 20s.
According to police, the suspect forced his victim into the Catholic Center located at Thompson and Washington Square South. Inside, he proceeded to rip her clothes off and rape her. Previous reports only described the attack as "attempted sexual assault". The NYPD says that the victim, who is apparently a missionary, screamed and was able to fight off her assailant, but sustained lacerations on her face and bruises on her body. She was transported to Beth Israel Hospital, where her condition was reported as stable.
Police also released surveillance footage of the man believed to be behind the attack. It is unknown whether the footage was shot before the man forced his victim into the Catholic Center or after he fled the scene. The suspect is seen wearing dark jeans, a fedora, a black cross-shoulder bag, and a dark blue or gray sweater. His right hand is wrapped in an ace-style bandage. The NYPD included a photograph of the fedora as well.
NYU spokesman John Beckman said, "Obviously, our thoughts are with the victim of this crime and we hope that she’s able to recover swiftly and that her assailant is brought to justice promptly." He also noted that while NYC has become very safe, "This is a reminder that even when we’re in a community that’s made a lot of progress in combating crime there are still moments when one can become a victim and it’s important to keep a high state of awareness,” he said.
UPDATEAccording to DNAinfo, the victim was unlocking the Catholic Center at approximately 5:35 a.m. to prepare breakfast for the homeless when her attacker forced her through the door. "I want a piece of you," the attacker said before punching his victim in the face and pushing her to the floor.
The victim prayed the "Hail Mary" for the duration of the attack. Before leaving, the attacker told her "I should have killed you, too."
Police were able to track the suspect to Midtown before they lost his trail. Investigators hope that forensic evidence on the crime scene will lead to the suspect's capture.
The victim was released from Beth Israel Hospital. "We are grateful that she was not more seriously hurt," a spokesman for the New York Archdiocese said.