A man attempted to rape a teenager in Riverside Park at West 116th Street yesterday afternoon, but the 17 year-old manged to fend previously convict rapist. Santiago Morales, 58, grabbed the young woman who was on her way to play tennis and took her to a wooded area. He held a knife to her neck as he told her take remove her clothes. However, she managed to shove him and run away, calling the police at West 122nd Street. Police arrested Morales are attempted rape, public lewdness and weapons possession.
Morales raped a woman in the park in a tunnel around West 115th Street in 1986 and was sent to jail for 16 years, emerging in 2003 having finished two-thirds of his sentence. Police are investigating whether or not Morales may be connected to other crimes in the area, including being questioned about the murder of Juilliard student Sarah Fox (the police doubt he was involved the Fox murder).
This is yet another warning that when you go to the park - any park, whether you're male or female - you need to be very careful. Riverside Park has a few different levels - the park at street level, the promenade, and then the tennis courts and skate park near the water - and while there usually are many people around during the day, the stairs from level to level are wooded and twisty. (A security guard in the area told Newsday, "This park is a perfect place for criminals.") Riverside Park is a beautiful place - just be alert. Here's information about the Riverside Park Fund. Also, there was a terrible rape and robbery in Greenpoint the other day: Men kidnapped a woman, made her withdraw money, and then raped her. Police have released a sketch.