Police are investigating after a 24-year-old woman fell victim to a sexual assault as she was keying into NYU's Catholic Center early Thursday morning. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.
On Halloween in the Village, you can expect to find all kinds of monsters, goblins, and witches. But police say that around 5:30 a.m. near Washington Square Park, there was something to truly be afraid of: a alleged rapist.
"I can't believe that something like that could happen," said one person. "You're supposed to be safe, at least with inside NYU."
Police are looking for the person seen in the surveillance image at left. They say he stalked and confronted a 24-year-old woman before pushing her inside a building. Despite the woman's attempts to fight her attacker off, police say that she was raped.
The Crime Scene Unit spent most of Thursday on scene at NYU's Catholic Center, dusting the door for prints and collecting evidence left behind, like boots and clothes.
The suspect, police say, had an ace bandage wrapped around one of his hands. He was also wearing a black fedora that he apparently left behind.
"We think of this as a very safe community. The stereotype is, not much happens around here," said Roman Goerss, an NYU law student. "We all got an email this morning sort of detailing the incident and warning everyone, and talking about what had happened."
The woman was not a student but was affiliated with the Catholic Center. The email alert stated that she was attacked while letting herself into the building.
Students told NY1 that they always have their guard up when they're out late at night or early in the morning, but now, knowing that a rape happened right in the heart of campus, they're going to be more careful than ever.
"My friends and I are just going to be more aware, travel together, not be alone late at night or very early in the morning," said Nell Kessler, an NYU student.
"It's New York. It's a city of 8 million people. There's always going to be some kind of tragedy and some kind of joy going on somewhere," Goerss said. "And if we decide to alter our whole behavior on the basis of that, it's sort of, where does it end?"
While school officials are encouraging their students to be careful, they also say that NYU is in one of the safest neighborhoods in city.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.