Community comes together to march after park rape

September 24, 2012 9:30:18 AM PDT
There a new alert for women across New York City after a frightening attack and rape at a city park.

The 21-year-old victim was raped in Hudson River Park around 5:15 a.m. Saturday. She was the second person to be raped in a city park in the last month. Residents and city leaders marched through the park Monday morning, chanting "Who's Park? Our Park!" and saying that more needs to be done to keep women safe.

"Make it clear, our parks will be safe for women any time of the day or night that they want to use their parks," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Quinn is taking a stand, two days after police say 25-year-old Jonathan Stewart started a conversation with his victim, then dragged her into the bushes, where he beat and raped her.

Stewart, a registered level 3 sex offender, was arrested a short time later. He was freed from prison last year after serving seven years for robbing and assaulting a woman.

Quinn says her office will call for a review of parole procedures and state laws for sexual offenders.

"We cannot have people who commit these horrible crimes think prison will be a revolving door for them, that will put them back on the streets to attack other people," she said.

Lawmakers are also calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to cut law enforcement resources in the mid-year budget.

"We should not use a midyear peg for our police officers who are out there on the streets trying to prevent these terrible crimes from happening," Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said.

"The number of police officers have been shrinking," City Councilman Domenic Recchia, Jr., said. "That has to stop. We need to hire another class and bring more police officers on the job.

There has been no comment from Bloomberg's office.

As for Stewart, he remains in police custody, but is now at Bellevue Hospital after an apparent suicide attempt Sunday.

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