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Tourist Sexually Assaulted in Midtown Alley, Police Say

By  Murray Weiss Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner | February 11, 2013 9:37pm | Updated on February 12, 2013 12:52pm

MANHATTAN — An Australian tourist was sexually assaulted in a Midtown alley early Sunday morning after partying at a trendy nightclub nearby, police sources said.

The woman, 20, spent the evening at Lavo, an East 58th Street nightclub frequented by celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio. She left about 3:30 a.m. and hailed a cab, police said.

But cops said the victim got into a heated argument with the cabbie and stormed out of the vehicle on East 58th Street. She was then grabbed from behind by a man, dragged into an alley and sexually assaulted, police said.

The vicious attack shocked workers in the upscale neighborhood, which is packed with boutiques and posh restaurants.

"It's a very good neighborhood," said Elba Rios, 52, who works in a nearby hospital. "There's a lot of activity. It's very congested, even at night.

"It's scary this could happen."

Lori Del Secolo, who works above Lavo, said the neighborhood is always busy with people and security guards.

"I can't believe it," she said.

"I feel very safe up here. There's a lot of security. It's a lot of neighborhood people walking around. Even nighttime is safe."

Tourist Sarina Russo, 40, who is also from Australia, said she was horrified when she heard about the attack.

"I was shocked and devastated that this could happen," Russo said. "My heart goes out to her."

No one had been arrested as of early afternoon Tuesday.

The victim met two friends at Lavo about 11:30 p.m., sources said. She stayed at the club when the friends left.

After the assault, the victim made her way to the Upper West Side apartment where she was staying and told a friend about the attack. They later notified police, sources said.

Investigators at the 20th Precinct, which covers the Upper West Side, are now trying to trace her movements, sources said. 

Police described the suspect as a 35 to 40-year-old man who is 6-foot-2 tall and weighs about 190 pounds. He was wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).

Julie Shapiro contributed to this article.