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Man convicted in rape, robbery of SJU student

A Bronx man was convicted last week in the rape of a 20-year-old St. John’s University student who was leaving her first day of work at a new job in Fresh Meadows and managed to capture the attack in a disturbing 911 call played in court, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

James Gillespie, 23, was convicted Friday afternoon of rape, criminal sexual act and robbery following an eight-day trial and four hours of jury deliberation. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter set sentencing for Sept. 23.

Gillespie’s attorney did not return a phone call for comment.

“The victim was walking home from her first day of work as a hostess when the defendant grabbed her from behind and dragged her into an alley where he raped her,” Brown said. “The young victim is to be commended for coming forward and confronting her attacker at trial. She testified with dignity and grace on the witness stand. While the scars of that which occurred may be with her for the rest of her life, hopefully this conviction will provide her with some small measure of help in overcoming the trauma she experienced during the assault.”

The 20-year-old was walking home from work at about 11:50 p.m. July 3, 2009, near 185-02 Horace Harding Expwy. in Fresh Meadows when Gillespie grabbed her and pulled her into an alley, the DA said. Unbeknown to Gillespie, she reached into her purse and dialed 911, capturing part of the sexual assault on the call, the DA said.

Prosecutors played the 911 tape of the attack, which was recorded after the St. John’s student called police on her BlackBerry, the New York Post reported.

“Please don’t do this to me,” the student said on the tape, the Post said. “Please don’t this to me, sir. Oh, my God.”

While taking the stand, the victim told the jury she felt “lucky that I’m alive,” the Post reported.

“I did what I could to stay alive,” the woman said, according to the Post.

The victim underwent a rape exam and a male DNA profile was generated that matched the DNA of the defendant, who was also captured on surveillance video taken from the area of the incident, the DA said.

Rapes have been on the rise in the 107th Precinct since last year, with 10 being reported so far this year, according to city statistics. At this time last year, there had been five reported rapes.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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