73-Year-Old Birdwatcher Claims She Was Raped by Man She Caught Masturbating the Week Before

Strawberry FieldsA 73-year-old birdwatcher in Central Park was raped in broad daylight Wednesday afternoon allegedly by a man she photographed masturbating in the park just says earlier. This story is chilling for a lot of reasons, but it also comes with a warning for women (and, really, for everyone): If you see something, no matter how insignificant it seems, report it.

The victim told police that the man asked, "Remember me?" before he attacked. She said he was the same man she had photographed masturbating in the park nine days before. He was angry and had tried to take her camera and demanded she delete the images, she told police. But she never reported the incident.

Nine days later, he was allegedly waiting for her.


It's unclear from her statement whether he stumbled upon her again or actively stalked her, but it's clear that the first incident should have been reported. Please don't think for a moment that I am blaming the victim for her attack. I'm not. There isn't a single thing she did wrong or did to deserve this attack. My heart breaks for her.

But as a woman who also uses public parks, I know I may have had the same reaction. It never would have occurred to me to report something as trivial as that first incident. Now I might think otherwise.

I suppose it makes sense, too. Masturbating in public is a sexual offense of sorts. Since exposing oneself CERTAINLY is, then masturbation would be as well. Therefore, this man was already committing a crime if the victim's story is true. She could have gone to the police with that.

Of course there is no telling what he might have done had she gone to the police. Maybe it would have been even worse. Hindsight is 20/20, and either way, she isn't at fault.

Still, it's a chilling reminder that any time something happens that feels very wrong and criminal, no matter how small, it should be reported. Who knows whom that might help in the future? At the very least, there would have been a record of the initial incident.

The kind of person who would rape an elderly birdwatcher in the park in broad daylight isn't the kind of person who should ever be free.

Do you go to the police for every incident?


Image via SimonPix/Flickr

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