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Hudson River Park Officers Describe How They Captured Rape Suspect

By  Trevor Kapp Julie  Shapiro and Ben Fractenberg | September 24, 2012 1:47pm 

TRIBECA — A pair of quick-thinking Parks Enforcement Patrol officers described Monday how they captured a suspected rapist over the weekend just minutes after the distressed victim approached them.

In their first public account since the alleged rape, Officers Daniel Murphy and Luis Cabezas said they were patrolling Hudson River Park near Harrison Street about 5:30 a.m. Saturday when a woman frantically approached them and told them she had just been raped.

The 21-year-old victim, who was not wearing any clothes, gave a description of her alleged assailant. Cabezas quickly spotted him and gave chase, Murphy said.

"My partner saw the suspect and took [off] after him," Murphy said at a news conference at the park with elected officials.

Murphy, meanwhile, brought the victim to his patrol car.

"I put her in the backseat and covered her with a blanket," Murphy continued. "She was very distraught."

Cabezas caught the suspect on the median of the West Side Highway at North Moore Street, just a block away from where police said the attack occurred.

Jonathan Stewart, a 25-year-old registered sex offender who is homeless, was charged with rape, criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, assault and forcible touching, police said. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital over the weekend after threatening to hurt himself, police said.

Murphy spoke at a community walk in the park Monday morning hosted by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, which drew more than two-dozen local women.

"Whose park? Our park!" the women chanted in the early-morning march.

"We just cannot rest as long as there continue to be incidents where women are out there enjoying the wonder of our great New York City parks, but continue to do that with fear in the back of their minds," Quinn said. "This is our park. This is our city."

One day earlier, Quinn and other politicians spoke out against anticipated NYPD budget cuts in the wake of the attack.