GRAMERCY — A repeat offender convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in the bathroom of a Gramercy bar in 2015 was sentenced on Thursday to spend at least two decades in prison.
A judge sentenced ex-convict Rodney Stover, 49, to 20 years-to-life for an April 11, 2015 attack, when he violently sexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman in the bathroom of Turnmill bar, at 119 E. 27th St. between Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South, according to a statement from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Stover, a convicted rapist who had been released from prison just two months before the incident and was staying at the nearby Bellevue Men’s Shelter on First Avenue, lay in wait for the woman in the basement of the bar, Vance said. As she left a bathroom stall at about 7:45 p.m. that night he grabbed her by the neck, forced her back in, threatened to kill her, and raped her before fleeing the scene, according to Vance.
“This brutal sex assault took place merely two months after the defendant was released from prison for a previous rape conviction,” Vance said in a statement. “Thanks to the strength of this survivor, as well as the work of my Office’s prosecutors and the NYPD, this predator is no longer free to commit crimes against other women.”
The woman was treated at Lenox Hill HealthPlex and police caught up with Stover less than a week later on April 15 after he walked by the bar and one of the owners, Tom Lucas, recognized him, called the police and then trailed Stover west on 27th Street a few blocks until Seventh Avenue where Stover headed north.
Lucas then saw a police vehicle headed down the street and flagged it down, pointing out the suspect a few hundred feet away.
"That's the guy from Saturday night," Lucas told DNAinfo New York following the arrest. "I followed him."
The assault at Turnmill was the third violent attack that officials have tied to Stover. In 1989 he tried to rape a topless dancer in her dressing room in a Pittsburgh strip club and was convicted of attempted sexual assault, officials said. He served 14 months in jail, then moved to Long Island in November of 1991 while still on parole in Pennsylvania, officials said.
In 1993, Stover was convicted of rape in Suffolk County after he snuck into a woman's house early on a summer morning, brandished a knife and raped the 42-year-old while her children slept in another room, documents show and officials from the Suffolk County District Attorney said.
The woman eventually fended Stover off with two kitchen knives, and Stover fled the scene leaving his pants and wallet behind. The victim stabbed Stover in the leg as he fled, officials said.
He served the maximum sentence of 20 years and was released in July 2012 from the upstate Great Meadows Correctional Facility, records show.
He racked up a host of disciplinary charges in lockup, including smuggling, disorderly conduct and creating a disturbance and was denied parole six times since 2002, state records show. After he was released from prison in New York, he was arrested again and thrown in prison in Pennsylvania for a 1991 parole violation, officials said.
Stover will serve out his sentence in New York state prison, Vance said.