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NYPD: Elderly Woman Sexually Assaulted In Central Park Near Strawberry Fields

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police are looking for the man who raped an elderly woman who was birdwatching in Central Park on Wednesday.

The 73-year-old woman told police that the attack occurred shortly before noon near Strawberry Fields, the park's landmark memorial to John Lennon. Police said the victim was assaulted by a white male, believed to be in his 40s, who stole her backpack, her camera she was using for bird watching, and then pushed her down into some mulch and raped her.

"As I came close, I could see this is a woman and her face was badly swollen and bruised and she had bits of the mulch and things like that on her face and she had been badly attacked. She said that he had threatened to cut her jugular," witness Eric Ozawa told CBS 2's Derricke Dennis. "She said that he had smashed her face into the ground. She said all of this. She was able to describe things very clearly and she wasn't, you know, sobbing. I don't know if she was in shock. I don't know if I was in shock, but she was very clear about what had happened."

"She said that she had to wait. She had to count to 100 before she got up. But I'm not sure if that meant that she had to do that for herself or that's something her attacker said," Ozawa told 1010 WINS.

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports


The woman told police she thinks she snapped her attacker's photo a few days ago, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a news conference.


"It's a possibility that she had taken his picture previously when he was exposing himself somehow in the park. And the words to the effect that 'do you remember me?' Something like that was exchanged," Kelly told reporters, including WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

On Wednesday afternoon, police released a photo of the suspect they said they are looking looking for.

"She was approached by a white male who she believes had a Russian accent. She may have had some contact with him in the past in the park," Kelly added.

Entrance To Strawberry Fields
The entrance to Strawberry Fields is taped off for a rape investigation. (credit: Al Jones, 1010 WINS)

Several park enthusiasts told CBS 2's Dennis that regardless of what happened they are convinced the park is safe.

"It's unusual, particularly if it was just here. There should have been a lot more people here," one park goer said of the incident.

"I'm surprised it happened in the middle of the day," Upper West Side resident David Belgrave said.

"I say, the park is safe. They made it very safe," added Sheila Whitten of the Upper East Side

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