The 29-year-old woman was beaten, raped and robbed in the 1200 block of St. James Street, between 12th and 13th streets, around 11 p.m. Nov. 14.
The woman, who moved to the city just last week from the Midwest, had been out with friends at Tabu. She was walking along St. James towards 13th to feed her parking meter when police say a man approached from behind. He said “hey” to get her attention, then knocked her to the ground and physically and sexually assaulted her before stealing $160 from the victim. The woman told police he may have had another man with him.
The woman ran back to Tabu and a friend drove her to the hospital. Capt. John Darby of the Police Special Victims Unit said the victim was treated and released and then transported to SVU.
The suspect was described as a 5-foot-8 black man in his early 30s, clean-shaved with shoulder-length braids and a dark complexion. He was wearing a blue button-down, khakis and a chain with a cross. He had a tattoo on his neck.
The man may have also had an accomplice, and investigators are examining surveillance video from the area.
“We are still in the process of getting certain videos downloaded, making contact with management and IT people,” Darby said. “It is a challenge for the department because there are a lot of different types of equipment out there, every one is different, and sometimes the owner isn’t familiar with it so they have to work with others to get the video. But it is ongoing.”
Darby noted that the incident was “unusual” for the area.
“It is a single case but it does have us concerned,” Darby said.
Police LGBT Liaison Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel said police are stepping up their presence in the Gayborhood in light of the attack.
“We are going to be increasing our police presence in that area,” he said. “We want to bring this guy in before any other incident happens.”
Darby said investigators are looking back through several years of records but they do not believe there are similar incidents to suggest a pattern.
However, residents and visitors to the Gayborhood should remain vigilant.
“We don’t want to alarm people, but we want to alert folks,” he said. “Like anywhere else you go, if you can have someone else go with you that would be great. And stay in lighted areas.”
The victim was out with at least one other friend that night and had been to several clubs in the area before Tabu, Darby said.
Darby said the woman does not live in the immediate Gayborhood area.
While Darby said the victim may have been at an increased risk because of being unfamiliar with the area, anyone could have become the rapist’s victim.
“She’d only been in the city for four days, so if you don’t exactly know where you’re going or there’s a moment of hesitation, you could be at a disadvantage,” he said. “But she was just doing what most folks would know, running back to their car to feed the meter. We can’t stress enough the idea of always being aware and alert of the things around you, but in this case, it didn’t happen that way. It was like a blitzkrieg. It was just boom, he was there.”
Bethel noted that people walking the Gayborhood, especially at night, should stick to the main corridors.
“Walking in pairs is an effective strategy and staying in well-lit areas,” he said. “Those small streets around there, St. James and Chancellor, they’re dark. So people need to remain cognizant of their surroundings.”
Anyone with information about the case or any businesses whose surveillance cameras may have captured footage from that area between 10:30-11:30 p.m. Nov. 14 is asked to contact Lt. Anthony McFadden at 215-685-3263 or 3264 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.