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Sanders’ staffers fight sex assault with group

TimesLedger Newspapers

As police press on with the hunt for the suspects wanted in a string of sex assaults in southeast Queens after another attack last week, City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) said the best defense for women would be to show the predators they will not live in fear.

The female members of the elected official’s office have formed a new women’s group in light of the surge of unsolved assaults that have taken place in the area since the fall.

During a scheduled meeting at Sanders’ office, at 234-26 Merrick Blvd. Tuesday, the group was set to discuss the recent attack that occurred Dec. 7 and involved a man the police say raped two women in Jamaica in October and November.

“Although this attack did not happen in my district, we’re not going to let invisible lines keep us from stopping this problem,” Sanders said.

The suspect in last week’s attack is described as a black man between 25 and 30 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall and approximately 220 pounds who first struck during the early morning hours of Oct. 13, police said. He approached a woman with a box cutter near 108th Drive and Merrick Boulevard and raped her in a nearby area, according to investigators.

On Nov. 15, police said he told a woman he had a gun and raped her near 145th Street around 1 a.m.

Last week the suspect placed a sharp object in the back of a woman around 1 a.m. near 154th Street and 109th Avenue, took her to the back of a nearby residence and attempted to rape her, investigators said. The attack was captured on a nearby surveillance video.

The victim was able to escape without being raped, while the suspect, who was seen wearing a black pullover hooded sweatshirt and a white-and-blue striped scarf during the attack, fled, police said.

“He’s a wolf hunting the innocent,” Sanders said.

The police were also searching for another suspect wanted in at least three sex assaults that took place in southeast Queens from Sept. 22 to Oct. 12.

In the first incident, a black male grabbed and sexually assaulted a 44-year-old woman as she was entering her Queens Village home around 1:15 a.m., investigators said. On Oct. 7, another woman was attacked in a similar way when she tried to enter her home, according to police.

A 23-year-old woman was walking along 226th Street and South Conduit Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 12, when a male approached her and sexually assaulted her, police said.

Officers arrested a 15-year-old Springfield Gardens boy and charged him in connection with two sex assaults that took place Oct. 9 and Oct. 16. His criminal case has been sealed and is being handled in Queens Family Court due to his age, the Queens district attorney said.

Community block watches and increased patrols from the police and the Guardian Angels have increased since the crime spree started and Sanders urged residents to stand up to the predators.

“We need to come up with a means of the community responding,” he said.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), text tips to 274637 (crimes), then enter TIP577 or log on to nypdcrimestoppers.com. All reports will be kept confidential.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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