Officials plead for harsher sex-crime penalties

Speaker Christine Quinn organized a self-defense class in Central Park Sunday after a rash of attacks.

After an alarming rash of sexual attacks in city parks, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said today that sexual predators need to be jailed longer — and should face harsher sentences when they attack again and again.
 

Just today, David Mitchell, 42, was indicted for allegedly raping an elderly woman in Central Park — and prosecutors said he sexually abused two additional women the same day.

Quinn announced a five-point fleet of legislative suggestions she said should make it more difficult for predators to leave prison, and easier to prosecute them.
 
Quinn referenced two recent rapes, one of an elderly birdwatcher in Central Park in September and another woman, weeks later, who was raped in Hudson River Park.
 
City officials said the multiple attacks unsettled residents in what Quinn called “heinous” crimes.
 
“These attacks have women on edge,” Upper East Side Councilwoman Jessica Lappin added.
 
Quinn suggested that sex offenders should appear once a year to have their photo taken and meet with law enforcement – right now, some meet once every three years.
 
Among other suggestions were pushing judges to seek maximum jail time and provide more funding to Sexual Assault Response Teams, which aid victims and help collect evidence that can be pivotal for prosecution.
           
One major loophole, officials said, is the ability to punish sex attackers who commit the same crimes again and again.
 
Under state law, officials said, a harsher punishment is available for repeat offenders – but only within a 10-year period. Some criminals are in jail during that 10-year period, which counts in the time.
 
This means, for example, that someone sentenced to 10 years for a sex crime could commit the same crime the day they leave prison and not face a harsher penalty.
 
“That just does not make any sense,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who introduced a bill to close the loophole.
 
And Queens Councilman Peter Vallone said that the state punishment for public lewdness, like flashing someone on the subway, doesn’t change, even after multiple times.
 
The City Council passed a law to make this a harsher misdemeanor, changing it from a misdemeanor facing a maximum of 90 days in jail to one with a maximum of one year, he said, but statewide there is no similar repeat penalty, he said.
 
“No one is doing jail time for their sixth, seventh lewdness,” he said. “That’s ridiculous.”
 
“We’ve got to make it much easier to keep these predators out of our trains and off our streets,” he added.

Rape suspect in court

Quinn made the announcement the same day that David Mitchell, 42, was indicted for allegedly raping an elderly woman in Central Park. Prosecutors say that he raped a 73-year-old woman who was bird watching in the park. He was also charged with sexually attacking two women on the Upper West Side the same day. “The timing, I hope, sends an even stronger message that we’re not going to yield one piece of parkland, one blade of grass,” Quinn said.

Another sex attack in park

Police were looking for a man wanted for attacking a teenager in Peck Park in Fresh Meadows, Queens. According to police, on Aug. 21 around 10:30 p.m., a man approached a 17-year-old girl, knocked her to the ground and tried to rape her. The victim was able to kick him in the chest and get away, cops said. Police described him as a white male, 40 to 50 and about 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds. The victim told police he spoke with an Eastern European accent.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…