Natasha Velez, New York Post, September 23, 2012
A young woman waiting to watch the sun rise in a TriBeCa park was yanked off a bench, beaten and raped yesterday during a prolonged attack by a “savage” sex fiend, police sources said.
Jonathan Stewart, 25, allegedly dragged the 21-year-old woman 10 feet into the bushes in Hudson River Park near Harrison Street at about 5:15 a.m., punching and attempting to strangle her before the vile assault.
After the woman bravely fought off her attacker, she ran completely naked toward two Parks Department cops and screamed, “I’ve just been raped! I’ve just been raped!” sources said.
The alleged attacker had fled on foot with no shirt and his pants down. He was arrested nearby and charged with rape and assault.
Stewart, a registered sex offender who is homeless, sidled up to her, trying to strike up a conversation, cops said.
But the woman spurned him, so he allegedly pounced on her and “brutally raped her for some time,” a law-enforcement source said.
Stewart lashed out at police and flailed like a maniac in his jail cell at the First Precinct station house. “He’s a savage. He looks like an animal,” a law-enforcement source said.
“He was going nuts in his cell. He was smashing his head against the wall and screaming and yelling at police officers.”
Stewart has a record of vicious crimes. He was paroled in July after serving seven years in state prison on a robbery and sex-abuse conviction from 2004. A police source said he raped a young female relative.
The attack — at least the fourth in a city park this month — comes 10 days after a 73-year-old bird-watcher was raped near Strawberry Fields in Central Park.
Diane Fox, 52, said, “We can’t enjoy Central Park; we can’t enjoy Hudson River Park — what’s left to enjoy?
“I moved here 34 years ago, and everything’s changing. The mayor should stop worrying about sugary drinks and start worrying about our freedoms. This is my community, this is my neighborhood, and I can’t go for a walk or watch the sunset?”