Reward offered for Westchester Square rapist

Elected officials are offering cash for your help in finding the individual who raped a 79-year-old woman last week.

To encourage community involvement against violence, and to offer a $10,000 reward for anyone with information, elected officials gathered Thursday, July 22, outside 1400 Benson Street.

It was there that an unidentified senior had been raped and beaten in the lobby less than three days before.

“This event has shocked us all. It has propelled us all to take action,” said Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., who has put up $5,000 for the reward. The rest of the money is being matched by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation.

“This predator is still on the loose and it is our hope [by offering this money] to put the word out on the street and to incenticise total participation from the community,” he said.

The rape occurred at about 2 a.m. Monday, July 19, in the building lobby, outside of the elevators.

According to a police report, the woman had likely been coming back from a late-night walk. As she was entering the building, she held the door for the suspect, who police describe as a 5-foot-7 Hispanic male in his 20s.

Then the man punched her in the face, and assaulted her.

The Bronx Special Victims Squad is continuing the investigation and reviewing security tapes, which captured the entire event.

Police said the man left the building wearing a dark shirt with the number 00 on the back, a different shirt than what he wore when he entered the building.

According to the report, neighbors noted that the woman suffered from mild dementia, and was very trusting and kind. She frequently went on walks at odd hours in the night, which they said could account for her being out so late, and her holding the door for her attacker.

“With this type of challenge,” Espada said about the reward being offered, “The payout will be a safe community for all of us, and the knowledge that this animal will no longer be on our streets, inflicting pain and damage to our psyche and to somebody’s mother or grandmother.”

Espada said that Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., who helped organize the event, inspired him to raise the money through the FLEF, which is a group offering financial assistance to law enforcement agencies and victims.

At the meeting, Anthony Herbert, of the Urban Community Council, also offered some advice for women across the city to avoid being the victim of a sex crime.

“Change your habits,” he said. “Change how you get around in your community. Change the way you get home at night, how you get to the train station. Change it up just a little bit, so you can get home safe at night.”

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