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Alleged Attacker in East Village Rape Didn't Know Victim, Police Say

By Patrick Hedlund | September 20, 2011 6:15pm
A man nearly killed a woman while raping her on East Eighth Street Sat., Sept. 17, 2011, police said.
A man nearly killed a woman while raping her on East Eighth Street Sat., Sept. 17, 2011, police said.
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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

EAST VILLAGE — The alleged attacker behind a near-fatal rape that occurred over the weekend did not know the victim, authorities say, claiming that he pounced on her suddenly on the street in broad daylight.

Neal Essex, 51, was arrested for nearly killing the woman during the brutal attack on Saturday morning on East Eighth Street, according to the criminal complaint.

Essex, an East Sixth Street resident, allegedly attacked the victim about 8:20 a.m. in front of 303 E. Eighth St., punching her in the head and then choking her into unconsciousness as he raped her on the street, according to police and the criminal complaint.

Sources said witnesses in the area saw the attack and came to the woman’s aid before Essex was eventually apprehended.

A police officer found the alleged attacker hovering over the woman with his genitals exposed as she lay on the ground with her pants off, the complaint added.

No other information was available regarding the victim, who was reportedly treated at Bellevue Hospital.

Essex, who is charged with rape and strangulation, is currently being held on bail. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 22.