73-year-old birdwatcher: I was raped in New York’s Central Park

73-year-old birdwatcher: I was raped in New York’s Central Park


A 73-year-old birdwatcher said she was raped Wednesday in Central Park, possibly by a man angered because she photographed him exposing himself.

The woman told investigators that the man asked, “Do you remember me?” before attacking her about 11 a.m. near the park’s tranquil Strawberry Fields that serves as a
memorial to John Lennon, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference.

The woman, who regularly visits the park to watch birds, said she thinks the assailant was the same man she photographed masturbating about a week ago in another,
more isolated part of the park, police said.

She said he demanded she delete the image before they went their separate w ys.

Investigators spoke to Eric Ozawa, a college professor and fellow birdwatcher who had called 911, while other officers and detectives swarmed the scene in search of the suspect.

Ozawa, 34, told reporters he was in the park about 11:30 a.m. when he noticed a pair of legs sticking out along the path but thought it was somebody sleeping.

As Ozawa got closer, he realized it was a woman lying face down. Her face was badly swollen, she had a black eye and was covered in mulch, he said.

Still, she appeared “self-possessed and lucid,” he said.

The woman told Ozawa she had been mugged and raped, he said. He immediately called the police.

“It’s shocking that it could happen in the
park in broad daylight,” he said. “That someone could rape somebody in her 70s.”

Police blocked off much of the area near West 72nd Street and Central Park West as they hunted for a suspect described as a man in his 40s.

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