Pregnant Woman Punched After Dispute Over Off-Leash Dog in Riverside Park

A man assaulted a pregnant woman in Riverside Park after chastising her about her off-leash dog, according to CBS News and A Walk in the Park blog.

The victim, Reilly Star, was walking her dog in the park near 91st Street a little before 8 p.m. on Sunday, and let the dog off the leash. A man confronted her, wrapping his arms around her and saying ‘Don’t you see the sign about your dog?’” she told CBS. Dogs are not allowed off-leash until 9 p.m. She apologized, but he started recording her with his phone.

“He puts his phone very close to my face which is not a comfortable feeling when someone is screaming at you so I pushed the phone away,” she said.

That’s when, Starr says, the crazed jogger decked her.

“He flat out just punched me in the eye and that’s when I screamed ‘I’m pregnant!’ and he said ‘well, you touched me’, and he ran away,” she said.

Starr saw a doctor who told her the baby is okay and she remains in good health, according to CBS.

A Walk in the Park blog posted a description of the man that the victim posted on her Facebook page.

“Safety alert: I was physically assaulted in Riverside Park last night by a white male, late 30s to early 40s, Irish looking, around 5’7 or 5’8, stocky, wearing a navy blue or black skull cap and navy or black fleece with Yankees embroidered on the left side…I believe this man lives in the 80s or 90s near Riverside. Based on his level of anger, most likely has a temper issue that neighbors have encountered. If you have any information on this man, please message me.”

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 73 comments | permalink
    1. luckycharms says:

      What does Irish looking mean? Did he have red hair? Was he a lephrechaun? lol

    2. Juan says:

      She by no means deserved to be punched. But there really should be a penalty for those who take their dogs off the leash – there are very specific hours when that is allowed but I constantly see people violating the rule. One of my children is somewhat afraid of dogs, partially as a result of seeing an off leash dog brutally attacking a squirrel, so we avoid the park during these hours.

      Also, not that it makes a difference, but how pregnant was she? Again, she doesn’t deserve to be punched, but there is a difference between someone who is 8 months pregnant and 3 months pregnant.

      • Frank says:

        There are citations if you’re caught with the dog off leash. They will also cite you if you’re in a part of the park dogs aren’t allowed.

      • Mattie says:

        Juan- Not to nitpick here but “how pregnant was she?” is kind of an absurd question as pregnancy is not measured on a scale of severity.

        • Juan says:

          I ask the question because the word “pregnant” is used in the title to give more sympathy to this woman. Again, under no circumstances should she have been punched – that is wrong. But punching a pregnant woman is an even lower act than punching a non-pregnant woman.

          I clicked through to the article and it says she was 7 months pregnant, so even if she was bundled up for the winter she was likely visibly pregnant, which is even worse. If there was no way of telling she was pregnant, I would have dropped the word “pregnant” from the title as it would be less relevant.

          • Jim says:

            In NY an aggressive threat of physical harm to anyone is assault, punching is battery. A pregnant woman will necessarily feel a threat more acutely so assault might occur at a lower threshold.

            We don’t know what the jogger knew, but you can be sure he would not have behaved the same way to another man. What a coward.

      • Matt H says:

        There are penalties for failing to follow the leash rules; it is a ticketable offense.

        Clearly a violent response is never justified; same page there.

      • jezbel says:

        Nope…. no difference. First she shouldn’t have been punched, pregnant or not. That’s against the law. Second, the man was clearly not able to contain his rage. He has a problem. Third – there’s no such thing as a little bit pregnant. You either ARE or you’re NOT. The bigger issue is not that her dog was off-leash. That’s illegal and it’s wrong. But it is NOT deserving of a person’s rage, violating her space by putting his phone or his hand in her face and certainly not punching her.

      • Rachel G says:

        Very true. Find him and lock him up. And fine her for violating the law. While violence is never the answer, it’s hard to play victim when you’re the one breaking the law in the first place.

      • Mike D UWS SINCE 1973 says:

        “…really should be a penalty for those who take their dogs off the leash …”

        There is–but there should not be. If your dog isn’t bothering anybody he/she should be allowed off-leash at all times.

        If your dog is a menace to people or other dogs he/she should be on-leash all the time.

        If YOU are not hurting anybody in any way YOU should not be punished. If YOU are hurting someone YOU should be punished.

        It’s that simple.

        • Carlos says:

          I disagree. To someone who is afraid of dogs (I love dogs but this is a rational fear, particularly amongst those who have had bad experiences in the past), any dog not on a leash is scary. It can be a furry 5 lb. dog or a German Shepherd – it is still scary.

          The current system works well for everyone. There is a time for dogs off leash, and a time when they can’t be. And there are plenty of dog runs if your dog needs to be off leash at another time.

        • Mia says:

          It’s not always about whether your dog is friendly. Our dog is not always friendly to other dogs. We take her only during leashed times so that we don’t have trouble with dogs running up to her. When other dogs are off leash at thiese times, it creates problems. People always say “Well, my dog is friendly and wants to say hi” when I ask them to pull their unleashed dog away from my leashed and now potentially aggressive dog. I don’t want my dog to bite your dog, you or me and that’s why we follow the rules. There are rules for a reason.

        • kitty hohllenbach says:

          An animal – even a good-natured pet – is still an animal, thus, unpredictable. The safety and rights of people in public spaces must be protected, as must the law be obeyed. Leash laws exist for a reason and owners who do not wish to abide by these statutes should not live in places where such regulations are in place.

        • EricaC says:

          I disagree (and yes, I have two big dogs). Dog owners (including me) are notoriously bad at assessing the degree to which their dogs are bothering others, and tend to assume that everyone loves dogs and welcomes them. But there people who are allergic or frightened, however the dog is acting, other dogs who don’t react well, and other circumstances where the loose dog causes others to be uncomfortable – and many people are polite enough to feel uncomfortable about confronting someone else, particularly if that person has already shown disregard for social norms (and the law). Moreover, dogs have a tendency to leave urine and feces behind with complete and joyous disregard for human tastes (or health concerns).

          The fact that the law says the dog must be leashes means that people have a reasonable expectation that they will be. As a result, they go out in the world with the reasonable expectation that dogs will not approach them without being under the firect and immediate control of their mistresses or masters. If the law was the opposite, people would plan for it – but it isn’t, and they don’t.

          When I see someone walking a dog unleashed in a place or at a time when leashes are required, I know at least one thing immediately – the owner is someone that puts his or her own preferences ahead of the law and the expectations of the community. That makes it clear to me that they are someone to be wary of. It is Alan a hint that they have beliefs about their dog’s “right” to be free of constraints they thing the dog will find untenable, which suggests that they may not have trained the dog to be any more civil than they are – which makes it more likely that the dog will be problematic. So I avoid them like the plague.

          And yes, I do love dogs. Rude and inconsiderate dog owners? Not so much.

      • Matt H says:

        Just dropping in again to say that comments that dogs shouldn’t be allowed in the park at all are just completely off the rails. Or that people are outraged — OUTRAGED — that people might not follow the letter of the law in all cases around leash laws — that’s completely off the rails too. Again, it’s a question of balancing competing concerns.

        I say this as someone who does get annoyed if people don’t follow the leash rules, but let’s keep some perspective. 90+% of the time it is a minor annoyance at worst.

      • M says:

        Juan, dog was not “brutally attacking” a squirrel it was doing what dogs do to small prey. . Maybe more understanding re dog behaviour would help, preying on small mammals does not mean dogs will “attack” / hurt humans, agree 100% re appropriate off leash / picking poop up of course. But you don’t attack people physically.

    3. I walk my Dobermans there. I always obey the leash laws. I would have given anything to have been there during the incident. What a low life piece of garbage. I have encountered a couple of idiots make comments. But never to the point of a violent confrontation. This guy needs to be locked up.

    4. robert says:

      Yes “message him/her” but FIRST and ASAP call the NYPD so they can grab him up before he does this again, Has she reported it to the 24? If not pls do soon asap

    5. Ellen says:

      It’s very upsetting to be aggressed, punched, by a stranger and in a park at night. I hope this pregnant woman finds some comfort after checking with her MD and others pay attention to her warning about the aggressive jogger.

    6. Evana Bando says:

      Dogs are allowed off-leash in Riverside Park after 9 at night? Are they police dogs?

      • BillyNYC says:

        Dogs are permitted to be off leash before 9 AM and after 9 PM in any city park of New York City including Central Park or any NY State park. Unless otherwise posted. Aggressive dogs must be leashed at all times and muzzled.

    7. Frustrated Park User says:

      I was assaulted by a dog walker once. She was walking her dog with another woman and her dog. Her friend’s off-leash dog cornered me. I was yelling because I was frightened. No matter what I did he tracked me and kept me cornered. I couldn’t walk away. When I tried to run, it got worse. To stop my frightened yelling, her friend grabbed my by my sweatshirt so hard that it was choking me for an extended period. I held up my hands when the assault began so that other park users could see that I was doing nothing to her. She pulled the shirt tighter until, in order to breathe, I had to put my fingers between the collar and my neck. The assault left a mark on my neck. I reported her to the police. Nothing came of it. Dog walkers need to keep tabs on their dogs. They always say: my dog never would do that. But the truth is the dog is unpredictable. The dog is especially unpredictable in a group. I’ve seen then turn on their “pack mentality” and get into a sort of hunting mode. It’s rare, but it’s terrifying when it happens. The owners never think that their dog will do that. When you try to explain this to them, they usually yell at you. It’s not fun.

      • Steen says:

        I love all the people on here justifying and joking about a man punching a woman who is alone in the park at night. “I was assaulted once by a dog!” “How pregnant was she?” “Quit pushing it, dog owners!” “Was he a leprechaun? The mob rules indeed. What a shameful bunch of folks on here. I am disappointed to know that you are my neighbors.

        • EricaC says:

          I think some of us (eg, me) were responding to the comment of the person who said that there was no need to comply with leash laws. Obviously, assaulting someone because they don’t follow the leash laws is inexcusable. (Pregnant or not.)

        • Christina says:

          Maybe she didn’t know about the off leash law didn’t go into effect until 9pm.She did apologize. Just a thought.

      • BillyNYC says:

        It’s a shame that what you experience from those dog owners. I being a dog owner have a responsibility and you must comply with the laws that govern where you live and walk your dog home or away on your travels. No dog owner has the right to walk their dogs on unleash between the hours of 9 AM and 9 PM anywhere in New York City, may be your dog be little old or a puppy. People who don’t yield to the dog law are not responsible dog owners and like parents who don’t take responsibility for their kids, you lose them — dog owners dogs should be taken away by the ASPCA. And should be fined and ticketed and a ASACA Transportation fee, call it one, two and three strikes law you’re out, you lose your dog !! Because you’re not a responsible dog owner… this should be voted in on the next election. I urged Gale Brewer our Manhattan Borough President to pursue this.

    8. BillyNYC says:

      At 8 PM at night and the dog is not harassing the jogger I find nothing wrong with the dog is off leash. I do find wrong is the jogger being aggressive enough to punch a woman is pretty damn sick in the head and he may need psychological evaluation. It’s too bad the woman did not have her phone handy to take some type a picture of this idiot. What will scare off this low life piece of shit individual is posting flyers in the area where this incident happened. Also the woman should’ve called 911 immediately we have a enough police in plainclothes and in uniform in the area that could trap this rat. Remember everyone should be vigilant and know your surroundings and by all means have your phone ready at all times to videotape or take pictures.

      • BillyNYC says:

        PS: If this asshole is reading this posting…I would love to meet up with him in Riverside Park just for 3 seconds, no worries I will have a hearse standing by, my treat!! BillyNYC

      • MJ says:

        It really doesn’t matter if you have no issue with it or not. It’s against the law. There are signs everywhere not to mention dog parks. At 8pm at night depending on the time of year there are many people sitting on the lawn playing catch, etc. A dog goes from not bothering anyone to chasing/grabbing toys from a child faster than an owner can stop them. Especially since most dog owners are on their phones while the dogs runs away.

    9. MJ says:

      Unacceptable that she was punched.

      But geez, dog owners, quit pushing it! There are rules. Want your dog to scratch a kid so you can get sued?

    10. Surveillance cameras says:

      I see the police were out this morning checking all video cameras in the area very hard to hide From the 20th precinct. He will be caught !!!!

    11. From the West Side says:

      Violence is stupid. Following rules is smart.

      I would love to help catch this crap of a person, but I don’t know what “irish looking” means.

    12. Ellie Steinman says:

      Personally, I would never go to Riverside Park alone at off hours. I am glad that she is ok.

    13. Gary says:

      Let’s remember… This is one side of the story. While I am not condoning punching a woman… I would like to hear the “Irish” guy’s version before jumping to conclusions.
      This woman was admittedly breaking a local ordinance and assaulted on him first.
      If you do something wrong and someone records it, hitting them or knocking their phone out of their hands is not in your legal recourse, and may come at a price.

      • BillyNYC says:

        True… we’re saying he’s guilty….maybe it was never done! I wasn’t there nor was anybody else…this could be a made up story for all we know. It is not the first time… look what happened to that woman who said she was raped in Central Park – never happened. Let’s not pass judgment on thi neighbors until she or he says their piece.

      • Tim says:

        Great point Gary, I was thinking the same thing. While violence is never a solution, it seems there is another side to this story. I can’t fathom somebody punching or getting physical just because he’s angry they are breaking the law. Hopefully the WSR can follow-up after the alleged attacker is able to tell his side of the story.

      • Esther says:

        This entire “story” is ALLEGED, according to one person. Rarely does anything occur in NYC, without a single witness nor camera documenting it. I’ll be interested to learn more about this alleged incident, as it unfolds. BTW, it irritate me that this dog walker and others break the law and show zero remorse, while amazing DOG PARKS exist and are close by. If she slapped the cell phone out of someone’s hand, I hope it was recorded! Something stinks about this one-sided poor-me, pregnancy exploitation, sob story… especially the description of the alleged “attacker”. We shall see.

    14. Mark says:

      I’m guessing this particular dog isn’t too aggressive given that it didn’t attack the attacker.

    15. Miranda says:

      The CBS report quotes the dog owner as saying
      “the lesson learned here is never underestimate anyone’s anger.”

      How about this lesson: Follow the rules, and keep your dog on a leash when and where that is required.

      Google “Riverside Park Dog Runs Leash” for a map – dogs are never allowed off-leash between 83rd and 91st Streets, and between 101 and 110 Streets – but these restrictions, as well as on-leash hours, are routinely flouted by dog owners.

      It is very hard to run in the park without being interrupted by off-leash dogs, with clueless and entitled owners. The vast majority of owners are dogs are fine – the dogs respond instantly to voice recall, and have been trained not to approach strangers. Unfortunately, there are so many dogs in the park that the few irresponsible owners mean that my runs are interrupted almost every day by dogs running up to me, or owners throwing balls across or down the running path, so their dogs look as though they are charging me when they are chasing the ball. Terrifying. This happens so often that I doubt that”Irish-looking” guy would have started recording her on his phone unless she was a repeat offender.

      Please, dog owners – you can avoid most conflict by moving away from the dirt running paths, and by training your dog to have reliable voice recall. If you do, I don’t much care if your dog is on leash – I just want to run in peace. Or keep your dog on leash. I don’t condone the Irish guy’s actions – but I too have been enraged by dog owners flouting the rules.

      • Ellen says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Everyone has a right to use the park, as long as they are not interfering with others’ right of enjoyment or safety (see park rules). Dogs like to play; they should not be allowed to play near pedestrian paths where a runner, a walker, a child, or a senior citizen might be hit or tripped.

    16. Annie says:

      Disgusting!!! So glad she is okay. I hope he is caught soon and charges are brought against him. We don’t need a creep with obviously severe anger issues on the loose in the park. I’m sure someone like him looks for trouble. Would love a more detailed description so people can know what to look out for!!

    17. Matt H says:

      Hah, this is actually a bit of a pet issue for me — no pun intended.

      Dogs must be on leash between 9 AM and 9 PM, but FURTHERMORE, there are many areas in the park where dogs are supposed to be on-leash at all times. 91st Street is actually the boundary of one of those areas (which runs from ~91st Street to ~82nd Street — for details Not including the 87th street dog run, obviously!) So if this all happened slightly _south_ of 91st street, the woman was actually _doubly_ in violation of the leash rules.

      All that said, this is no reason to shove a phone in someone’s face and then punch her. That’s insane.

      Anyway, I run and cycle in Riverside Park a good deal, and dogs that are off-leash when or where they’re not supposed to be present a minor safety & convenience issue to me. The rules are supposed to set a compromise among different users of the park and the conditions that they would hold ideal. It is a bit galling when people just ignore them. Sometimes I will gently and politely upbraid people for this.

      All that said again, it’s rarely more than a minor annoyance. Particularly in the winter months, after dark, I’m generally glad to have more people out in the park and the leash issues tend to be more technical violations than something actually inconvenient.

      p.s.: I am not the perp! For one thing, the description doesn’t fit me; also, my family and others in my building can attest I was home at the time of the incident.

    18. Wil says:

      Dogs should not be allowed in the park at all.

    19. Liveandletlive says:

      Here’s a tip: mind your own business. Yeah it’s technically against the rules to have a dog off leash before 9 PM, but if the dog isn’t bothering anyone then who cares? The police certainly don’t. Just like it’s against the rules to double-park… but normal humans don’t accost other people about these types of things.

      You know what is illegal and deserves intervention? Harassing someone and assaulting them. Hope he gets caught.

    20. BillyNYC says:

      Can this victim come in to the 20th precinct and they will have a sketch artist on hand?
      This could be arranged immediately.

      I urge this guy to surrender to the 20th precinct immediately. Just come in and discuss it. It’s going to be easier for you and if you don’t because we will catch you. Video in the area is now being checked.

    21. Sarah says:

      How very manly.

    22. UWS_lifer says:

      These comments are pretty wild. Wow! To me it seems the beginning of this whole chain of causation was caused by the allegedly pregnant woman breaking the law. She should never be the victim of a crime…but she is the original perp here.

      I doubt she will be prosecuted or ticketed or whatever though.

    23. Lisa says:

      Anyone who punches a woman – whether or not her pregnancy was visible – is a low life. I hope he’s caught.

    24. Oona says:

      This is a little off topic but I’m always concerned when I see young women going into Central Park or Riverside Park at dawn or dusk or when it’s dark. No matter what you think it is dangerous and there may be no one to protect you should there be an assault. I learned this when I caught myself jogging around the back side of the Bridle Path in Central Park at dusk one winter evening when I realized I was completely isolated. As women we need to always keep safety front and center.

    25. Judith says:

      Why did she let her dog off the leash when she knew it was not allowed? Why does her dog have more rights than people?

    26. TC says:

      I’m a local dog walker so i have no choice but to obey the off leash laws. I walk some sweet dogs but even the best behaved pups can get agitated if another off leash dog approaches them, even in a friendly manner (it’s called “leash aggression” for a reason). I’m sorry this woman was assaulted because that is unacceptable. But i was physically threatened by a man recently for asking him to call his off leash dog away (during hours he was not supposed to have them off), only to have my dog get agitated and bark like a mad dog. I won’t go into what he said but i can assure you i don’t walk that way anymore for fear of altercation. There are acceptable off leash areas in the park. I avoid the park early mornings and late evenings too. If you are a dog owner please be cognizant of this. Thank you

    27. lilly says:

      Rules are rules. Keep your dog on the leash. Dog owners unleashing their dog is their way of not picking up after their dog. Seen it too many times in the park.

    28. Claudette G says:

      Red hair? Perhaps a more detailed physical description than ‘Irish Looking’ is warranted. What specifically about his facial/physical structure amounts to that? It frustrates me because I really hope they catch this guy and ‘Irish looking’ as a description is insufficient.

    29. B.B. says:

      Likely another chapter in a story we’ve all heard (sadly) too many times before.

      It begins with a “native” Manhattan/NYC resident becoming indignant to angry over something done by a “transplant” or whatever he believes the offending person to be. The rest as they say is history.

      Don’t care what anyone else is doing, there is no reason to put your hands or “arms around” another person, much less haul off and punch them, especially a woman in the family way.

      Sadly this will end up being nothing more than a tempest in a tea pot. When or if the man is found, he’ll be arrested on rather low assault or other charges. Given a desk appearance ticket and set free. Later some sort of plea agreement is worked out where he agrees to do “X” and if work kept the whole thing will be dismissed and records sealed in six months.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        reply to B.B., who said:

        “Likely another chapter in a story we’ve all heard (sadly) too many times before.

        It begins with a “native” Manhattan/NYC resident becoming indignant to angry over something done by a “transplant” or whatever he believes the offending person to be. The rest as they say is history.”

        I love the way you insert what apparently is a pet issue of yours — “native” New Yorkers “oppressing” new comers — into an entirely different story.

        Based on the story as written, you have no idea if either or both are “natives” or “transplants.”

        the real estate industry in areas like the UWS wants to move long-timers out so they can make more money, including on the churn. thus, they want to disparage “natives” whenever they can. i don’t know if this was your motive, or if you just like to jump to conclusions.

        this incident was an appalling example of an assailant attacking a pregnant woman in a fit of rage. let’s leave it at that. i hope he gets caught.

    30. Lighten up says:

      Other violations that it appears some of you may condone punching a pregnant woman:

      1. Jay walking (a clear violation of rules)
      2. Leaving your car parked five minutes before alternate side parking restrictions are up. If it says no parking 8 to 930, you will get punched leaving at 925.
      3. Hanging your clothes on clothesline without a licence (it’s true look it up).
      4. And you better believe if a pregnant woman has ice cream in her pocket on sunday (illegal), she’s going down

      • kitty hohllenbach says:

        I’m failing to see in these comments support for punching the woman walking her dog off-leash. Pointing out that she was in violation of the law in no way implies her attacker was not also engaging in criminal activity when he assaulted her. Both these individuals should think before they act in the future.

    31. Jimbo says:

      Assault horrific. However, in the age of “only I matter,” more and more dog owners have their precious ones off-leash in the parks–and are not poop scooping in the streets. Our laws should be obeyed. There is such a thing as our common welfare.

    32. Bjorn says:

      I feel like I’ve been accosted by this same guy before with my dog. A couple months ago I swear 9:05am and a jogger just like him started cussing me out. What a scumbag, lock him up.

    33. Elizabeth says:

      As the owner of a german shepherd on the Upper West Side I can’t say enough how important it is to abide by the leash dogs. My dog is extremely well trained but also reactive to animals or people that threaten us (aka an off leash dog charging us, or a man punching me) – which is part of the reason I have him.

      Countless times we’ve been screamed at because of his response to an off leash dog basically assaulting him. It’s unnerving and, even though we’re not at fault, scares the life out of anyone in the vicinity. Now, there’s no reason for anyone to get physically violent ever but there’s a certain sense of entitlement I’ve felt from fellow UWS dog people that it’s their park and off leash or on leash they’ll do what they want. This is unacceptable. A person or a beloved dog will get hurt.

    34. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      I see people breaking the rules all the time in Riverside Park by allowing their dogs off the leash. There appears to be zero enforcement.

      I have been chased by one dog and have several others act aggressively or jump up on me. There have been probably 2 incidents involving unleashed dogs in Riverside Park where I have been in fear.

      A significant number of dog owners in this area are inconsiderate of other people. (I know this does not apply to all dog owners.) They disregard the leash rules and make an enormous mess with urine/feces on the sidewalks. The explosion in the dog population in this area has become a real nuisance and quality of life issue in my view. I understand that people love their dogs and want the companionship, but the sheer number of dogs has created a negative externality.

    35. Not to be redundant, since everything has already been addressed, but here are my 3 cents:
      A) it is NEVER justified to touch aka “physically assault” anyone, even if they are breaking the law, that’s what the parks dept. or police are for. So I hope the pregnant lady called the cops.
      B) Yes, unfortunately I constantly see dog owners violate leash laws. As a result:
      -there’s shit all over the place, in green areas of the park where dogs are not allowed- dog owners turn those into dog runs in the spring and summer, so that one cannot enjoy a quiet and dog-feces-free time – especially the infield of the running track in Riverside park around 72nd Street. I’ve also ruined a number of shoes that way and got yelled at by dog owners when I dare to tell them to leash their dogs.
      -I’ve seen a pit bull almost kill a German shepherd a while back, both were off the leash during the day.
      -I’ve seen an off-leash dog kill and eat a squirrel, the owner pretended he didn’t know their dog. I’m still traumatized from having had to watch that. It also happened during leash hours.
      -I’ve gotten dirty looks from dog owners when their wrongfully off-the leash dog comes close to me and I pull back. I’m somewhat afraid having been attacked by a pit bull on the upper west side once –