10/7/11

Southern Brooklyn Fights Sexual Assault Spree

Federico Chamorro Yax is the latest arrested in a string of sexual assaults involving multiple perpetrators in Southern Brooklyn since this spring.

Six of the 11 confirmed sex attacks happened in South Slope and Park Slope.  Three — including a completed rape — took place in Sunset Park, and two in Bay Ridge.

The victims in this cluster were petite white women between 20 and 36 years old wearing skirts or dresses. The assaults usually happened on weekend nights between 10:30 PM and 4:15 AM.

When the spree began back in the spring, police attributed the attacks to a single individual, described as a Hispanic male between 20 and 30 years old, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. But victims have now described several different assailants.

Southern Brooklyn residents, dismayed by the NYPD's inept response to the continuing attacks, have publicly called for better community policing, organized a march, enlisted escorts to walk women home, and scheduled free self-defense classes.

Police are trying to connect Federico Chamorro Yax, arrested in Bensonhurst after two alleged sexual assaults in Sunset Park last weekend, to other attacks in the series.

Yax reportedly came up on two young women near 56th Street at 3 AM last Sunday morning and started to grope one of them. Both women fought back, knocking Yax to the ground. Still down, he tried to grope the second woman before getting up and running away.

Cops later caught up with him at home. He apparently has at least one other similar charge pending.

While Yax fits the general profile of the "South Brooklyn rapist", his victims don't: Yax' chosen victims are black and Hispanic. All of the other victims have been white.

Police have posted composite sketches of three other men wanted in the sexual assault spree, each in a different case. Victim accounts and video surveillance tapes in these cases are conflicting and have failed to produce clear identifications.

The assailant's MO is consistent, though: he comes up behind his victim, tries to push her to the ground, and tears at her clothing to gain access to her breasts and genitals.

All but one of the victims has fought the assailant off -- alone or with the help of other people. He usually flees the scene on foot, but one victim saw him leaving in a cream-color Chevy SUV.

The 5 most recent assaults (excluding Yax') happened near the subway stations at Prospect and Fourth Avenues and at Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue. Police say they have stepped up their presence in those areas.

What's happening in Southern Brooklyn is part of a citywide increase in rapes.  Although the city's overall crime statistics dropped by 1.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, rapes surged by almost 14% during that period.

People in Southern Brooklyn communities have complained that police response to the sexual assault spree has been clueless and ineffectual, and have been angered by patrol officers warning women not to wear shorts or skirts -- as a rape prevention strategy.

Victims and witnesses have criticized the NYPD's response, saying that 911 calls have been ignored and offers of evidence have been turned away.  Callers to Crime Stoppers have reported being dismissed by operators.

The post from the Brooklyn Ink.

Click here to sign the petition by New Yorkers Against Sexualized Violence.

After what appeared to be a cooling-off period, the groper struck again in January, 2012. [Brooklyn Paper.]

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