April 10, 2012 By Christian Murray
Neighborhood politicians held a press conference this morning at 46th Street and Queens Blvd. to warn residents about a sexual predator on the loose who attacked a Sunnyside woman on Easter Sunday.
The press conference came just two days after a 30-year-old woman was attacked near 39-08 46th Street at 5:45 am. The man threw the woman into the bushes and put his hands down her blouse and punched her in the face.
Fortunately, Mike Novak, a neighborhood resident, heard the women’s screams from his house and ran outside to check it out—causing the perpetrator to flee. The incident occurred on the same block as where Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer lives.
The attacker is believed to be a male Hispanic in his late 20s-early 30s, and to be between 5 ‘6’ to 5 ‘8’.
This latest attack comes on the heels of six groping episodes that took place in Sunnyside and Woodside in September and October last year. None of those incidents, which involved female victims as young as 12, were solved. The perpetrator of those attacks was believed to a Hispanic man who rode around the area on a black mountain bike.
This latest victim, similar to those last year, was unable to provide police with a good description—given the speed and surprise associated of the attack.
At the press conference, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Van Bramer and other elected officials personally distributed fliers with Mike Novak to subway riders as they were on their way to work. The fliers provided a description of the perpetrator and were used to raise public awareness about the recent attack.
The police do not believe this latest incident is linked to last year’s episodes—although they are still early in their investigation. Furthermore, there does not appear to be a link to the groping incidents in Jackson Heights, where four women have been sexually attacked in the past month.
“The recent uptick in sex-related attacks in our neighbourhood is intolerable,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris. “Women in our community should feel comfortable riding the subway, walking the streets and going about their daily activities.”
Meanwhile, Van Bramer insisted that Sunnyside is a safe neighborhood. “This [attack] is not indicative of Sunnyside or Sunnyside Gardens.” Instead, he added, “Mike Novak’s heroism is indicative of our neighborhood.”
Christine Quinn, council speaker, said it was “unfortunate that we are at this corner once again responding to individuals thinking they can prey on women.”
Quinn said that there have also been a number of groping incidents in Manhattan. “There is a man who has been groping women in 3 neighborhoods.”
Meanwhile, when Novak was asked about his bravery, he just shrugged his shoulders and said: “I’m no hero. I just did what anyone would do if they heard a woman screaming.”