Woman Knocked Down, Groped in Riverside Park

By Joy Bergmann

A local woman’s typical evening walk with her pit bull through Riverside Park turned into a frightening struggle against an assailant around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, she tells WSR.

“I was on the upper path just west of the highway near 75th Street when this man came up from behind me and pushed me to the ground. He started grabbing my chest, grabbing all over, but not saying a word. Totally silent.”

The woman fought back, albeit with only one arm – the other hand was still holding the leash on her female pit bull, who did not attack the attacker. “I started yelling. I elbowed him and he ran away.” She says she escaped with minor scrapes, having been robbed not of money, but of tranquility.

“My message to everyone is:  Be careful,” she says. “I’m 52 years-old. I’m big – five foot eight and stocky. I’ve never had anyone try to mug me or sexually assault me before.”

Police from the 20th Precinct came “right away” after she called, she says. Together, they cruised the park trying to find the man, to no avail.

The woman says she didn’t recognize the man as a park habitué.  She described her assailant as a white male in his 30s or 40s with a medium complexion and straight brown hair, about 6 feet tall with an average build – unremarkable in every way but one, “He had a crazy look in his eyes.”

NYPD officials confirmed her account and said Manhattan Special Victims Unit would be handling this sex crime, categorizing it as a “forcible touching incident.”

NEWS | 42 comments | permalink
    1. Bill Williams says:

      Who walks in any NYC park at 10PM?

      • chris woo says:

        For those who think we should be prisoners in our homes after dark, do you even KNOW what the upper level of the park at 75th is? It is right near the Eleanor statue and basketball courts between traffic on the highway and traffic on Riverside Drive. Second, maybe your bedtime is 6pm but the park doesn’t “close” till 1am so anyone should feel free to walk there without getting attacked.

        • your_neighbor says:

          Please read the article more closely. She was on the path that runs WEST of the highway which is the upper pathway down by the river (the path that was supposed to be converted to a bike-way to keep inconsiderate bikers off the waterside path).
          The path that she was on is pretty desolate in the middle of the day and deserted after dark.

          My question is why is NYPD treating this as forcible touching rather than as an assault?

        • Gemmag says:

          If you live in the neighborhood, AND you walk your dog in the park you should be able to do so at 10PM I totally agree with you

        • Marianne says:

          Excellent comment, Chris Woo! I agree. I frequently take walks along the path with a friend and we have noticed that nowadays there are much less police patrol cars that used to make their rounds after dark. The parks department and the NYPD should make sure that these parks are safe!

      • Amy Cook says:

        It’s the summer. Tons of people are out at 10pm. come on now.

      • Vince says:

        I frequent Riverside park around 10PM all the time. Walking by the river at night is healthy and enjoyable. Before Deblasio, the police would patrol the area, now I rarely see a patrol car. The area by pier 1 cafe hosts a great number of people even after 10 pm. It’s safe, you just have to be alert of your surroundings. If possible, walk with a friend. The city allows mentally ill people to walk the streets, they feel they are being compassionate. That isn’t compassion, it’s stupidity. Mentally ill people need treatment and away from mainstream.

      • Ann bluestein says:

        Blaming the victim.

    2. PedestrianJustice says:

      How about stepping out from the cave?

      Women, men, everyone in this city should feel free to walk our park paths without fear. At any hour that park is open.

      What? Muggers have their “zone” and we should respect that? Never.

      Resist. And fight on. Like this woman.

      • ShebrewUWS says:

        First they came for the women….

      • Alex says:

        This comment is outrageous. One might “know” that, historically, it is riskier to go into the parks after a certain hour — but to accept this as given is to capitulate to being terrorized by nameless threats. To then accuse a victim of being complicit in the crime committed against her is itself a crime.

    3. Priscilla says:

      We blaming the victim now? What year is it?

      • Jay says:

        It’s not the first time this has happened on this blog. Unlikely to be the last…

      • Jen says:

        Worst case of trolling. Just ignore comments like this, they are craving attention, so don’t give it to them. Hey don’t care about the case, only using it to see how much negativity can it produce. These people are not worth a second of our attention.

    4. Ted says:

      I’m 6’2″ and well over 200 pounds and there is no way I would venture into Riverside Park at 10pm. It’s just not a healthy choice. I feel terrible for the victim but others should know this was not a good application of environmental and situational awareness.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        there are lots of dog walkers are in the park at that time.

        Further, as someone above has noted, the “upper level” of Riverside at that point is basically alongside Riverside Drive. i frequently run there at night with no problems.

        it’s really not too nice to blame the victim!

        • your_neighbor says:

          The “upper level” that she was on was described as the pathway WEST of the highway which is the desolate path between the highway and the waterside path. It is not the part of the park with the dog run and the Roosevelt statue. Not a good place to be at 10pm.

      • Concerned Citizen says:

        Without blaming the victim, I would second not venturing into the park, especially alone, at 10:00 p.m. I live across the street from Riverside Park. Pretty much the same goes for any park. I’m male, six feet tall, and 185 pounds. Have also lived in NYC for 50 years.

    5. B.B says:

      So much for the oft claimed theory all pit bull dogs are vicious.

      Am glad the woman was able to eventually fight off her attacker. Ten at night isn’t really late for Riverside Park, and usually there are still people out especially taking Fido for last stroll of night. Thus am surprised this went down without anyone else around.

      Ladies time to start going back to old school NYC; carry a whistle!

      • UWS_lifer says:

        As usual, B.B. has a great suggestion.

        I know it sounds like a small thing but a whistle, believe it or not, is very effective in a situation like this, especially in an urban environment where there are people all around and certainly within earshot.

        It’s small, easy to carry, cheap, safe, effective and can’t be turned against you like a weapon, which happens more than you think when civilians try to arm themselves with guns, knives, pepper spray, etc.

        How much is a whistle?? a couple bucks? probably cost 10 cents each to make in China. Why not give them out for free at the local police precinct? and not just for women, anyone who wants one, that’s why I don’t like the antiquated term “rape whistle”. Anyone could use one in a dicey situation…kids, the elderly, women, men, everyone.

      • Marianne says:

        I agree, a whistle could startle someone and alert others, but you don’t know how mentally unstable the attacker might be and if they have a weapon.
        Last night I walked with a friend past that same spot without knowing about the attack and we saw a woman on her cell phone sitting on a bench by herself, there was no one else around -it’s a quite dark stretch of the park and I actually said to my friend, I was nervous for this woman. Also, there is another dark stretch that should be lit which is between 72nd St. by the river leading to the Pier One café downtown, not a single very dark. We see suspicious looking men at times lingering. hope this guy gets caught very quickly!

      • Sabina says:

        I carry a whistle on my key chain – hopefully never have to use it, but it’s there in case I do.

    6. Sam says:

      What a horrifying incident.

      Almost as horrifying as people here blaming the victim for it.

      Let’s just hope this psycho gets apprehended before another attack (no matter what time it occurs).

    7. Olden Daze says:

      So I suppose the gentleman who was punched in the face and relieved of his belongings while sitting on a bench last Friday morning at 10AM in Central Park was just asking for it?

      He should’ve known better.

    8. AC says:

      Born and raised in the UWS in the 1960’s, the older generation during my youth advised me of the following:
      1) City Hall is corrupt.
      2) Stay out of Central Park’s Ramble.
      3) Don’t venture into any park after dusk.

      Not blaming the victim. We’re all adults and daily life, whether here or middle America, is a risk. I just like to reduce my risk.

    9. Brenda says:

      I will always be nervous walking alone anywhere after dark. I don’t care what time it is. It’s not fair, it’s infuriating, but it’s true.

    10. MJ says:

      Just adding my voice to the “don’t blame the victim” crowd. Enough already. Reread your words before you post. Y’all are essentially saying she was asking for it. *NOBODY* deserves or should expect to be sexually assaulted or harassed. Ever. Full stop. I don’t care what time of day it is, where they are, what they’re wearing or what they’re doing. NOBODY is asking for it. Take those words to heart.

      And I dunno, maybe consider turning your comments of disdain and outrage towards the actual sexual predator (of which I will note right now, there are none).

    11. Scott says:

      Stupid attacker to attack someone with a pit bull

    12. UWS Zaddy says:

      I really hope this isnt the women i see in the neighborhood w/ her pitbull … Very nice lady, and hate to read crap like this

    13. Honest Abe says:

      People retreating from and avoiding the parks makes them more dangerous, not less.

    14. Lady in Question says:

      Hi,

      I am the lady mentioned in the article. I have walked this path no exageration over 1,000 times, mostly at night, and it is heavily trafficked, In fact, moments after the attacker ran away from me, a cyclist rode by who would have seen the whole thing and hopefully would have come to my aid. With that being said, i will going forward use the path on the water since there is much more traffic and lighting there. I will also get pepper spray.

    15. AnonymousUWSWoman says:

      I was sexually harassed on the Uptown 1 train around 9:30 Wednesday evening by a man matching this (admittedly a little vague) description . When a passenger across from us got up to intervene, the harasser got off the train at 72nd st.
      Shaken by reading this story and hope this poor woman was not attacked by the same aggressor since the time and location match.
      He was tall, Caucasian but dark with brown hair and eyes, wearing a black baseball cap and dark jacket. Spoke with a slight accent.

      Called the precinct in case they have cameras at 72nd st station. Hope the man from the park is found.

    16. Robin says:

      I’m glad to hear that you’re ok!
      Sounds like the attacker was most likely on drugs, which explains his lack of judgement. He got off easy. Hopefully he’ll be caught.
      These are the times that we wish our dog could attack!
      Hopefully it’s obvious to those who are prejudiced against ALL pit bulls, that if the dog isn’t trained to attack, they’re not going to do so.

    17. Ellen Jacobs says:

      I am glad she is safe and hope tranquility will return too. Possibly best to walk with another dog walker for awhile – news is saddening.

    18. NYWoman says:

      Vince who always walks in the park at 10pm. You are a man. Here are the stats: 1 in 5 women vs. 1 in 71 men. Welcome to female reality. We can’t , or shouldn’t walk in a deserted park. That’s our whole life in a nutshell. https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf

      • Marianne says:

        I’m the friend Vince walks with at 10pm because as a female I’m too afraid to go alone to the park after dark. That’s the sad reality, we women have to be extra careful. But if you want to join us for a walk, NY woman, be our guest!

    19. Norma says:

      Attacker must be mentally ill to attack and person with a pitbull. I hope he is caught soon.