Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
A man with a history of violence has been arraigned on charges he retaliated against a 73-year-old birdwatcher who took a compromising photo of him by raping her in Central Park.
David Albert Mitchell, who is believed to be homeless, was arraigned on charges of first-degree rape, robbery, assault and other offenses. He is being held without bail.
He was taken into custody on Wednesday when police spotted him at 77th Street and Amsterdam Avenue that evening.
Mitchell is wanted for an August 20 incident in Central Park in which he allegedly pulled a knife on a park-goer. He also has a record out of state.
He faces rape and other charges.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the woman told police she thinks her assailant may have been a man she photographed exposing himself in the park days earlier.
"She was approached by a white male who she believed had a Russian accent," he said. "She may have had contact with him in the past."
The man asked her something to the effect of "Do you remember me?," Kelly said. He then attacked her.
A college professor who called 911 told reporters he found the woman face-down on a path. He said she had a swollen face and black eye.
The crime, which took place in the middle of the day near heavily trafficked spot, shocked many, including Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer. The attack stunned her on many levels: First, the victim was elderly, and secondly, she was a bird watcher.
“I know many of them personally–they’re almost like sacred, to be honest. They are people who keep the park safe, who are there all the time,” she said.
Council members on Thursday announced free self defense classes in the park on October 7 for New Yorkers who'd like safety training. Brewer said the group class will help anyone with lingering fears. "I think the idea is to get people into the park and to reiterate that it's safe and that you can be even safer if you learn some skills."
The Council members said they're also arranging free classes self defense classes at centers in the Upper West Side and Harlem, just for seniors.
With the Associated Press