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Sex Offender Charged In Rape In Flatiron District Bar Restroom

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A man with a prior conviction of a brutal sex crime was charged Wednesday with raping a woman in a restroom stall in a Flatiron District bar.

Rodney Stover, 48, was charged with rape, predatory sexual assault, a criminal sex act, and assault in the Saturday evening attack, police said.

As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, sources told CBS2 police apprehended Stover, who had been described as homeless, on Wednesday morning after receiving a tip from a bartender who recognized him on the Seventh Avenue.

Rodney Stover
Rodney Stover is charged with the rape of a woman in a restroom in an East Side bar. (Credit: New York State Department of Corrections)

Surveillance video showed the suspect casually strolling down the street – minutes after he allegedly raped the woman at the Turnmill Bar, at 119 E. 27th St. between Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South, this past weekend.

The attack happened around 7:45 p.m. Saturday, police said.

Police said the woman was in the ladies' room, and when she opened the door to the toilet stall, the suspect was waiting for her.

He allegedly pushed her back into the stall, grabbed her by the throat, and raped her, police said.

Police said they believe the suspect did not target a specific victim, and was waiting in the restroom stall when the woman walked in.

The suspect ran off, and the victim was rushed to North Shore-LIJ Lenox Hill Healthplex for treatment and evaluation, police said.

After the attack, police said Stover was captured on surveillance video leaving the scene.
"I was thinking that no place is safe," said East Side resident Gauri Wathwa. "I was really scared."

Wathwa lives just blocks away, and has been shaken since Saturday by the news. Sources said Stover is a registered sex offender, and was most recently living at a men's shelter on East 30th Street near Bellevue Hospital Center.

Stover was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison in 1993, after being convicted of breaking into a home the year before and sexually assaulting a woman in Suffolk County, according to state records. He was convicted of rape, sodomy, aggravated sexual abuse, burglary and assault.

Stover was released from prison in 2012, but picked up soon afterward on a Pennsylvania charge and released again this past January, police sources said.

"If he's a registered sex offender, why is he roaming around like this?" Wathwa said. "He shouldn't be roaming around like this then. It's so unsafe."

"The fact that it occurs – it's an awful reminder that these things happen," another woman added.

Stover was expected to be arraigned on Thursday.

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