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NYPD Criticized For Not Quickly Arresting Repeat Sex Offender

Before dawn in March, a man on a bicycle rode up behind a woman running on a path alongside the Hudson River in New York City, tackled her forced her to perform oral sex, took her credit card and phone, and disappeared. The attack received little public attention, even after the police identified the suspect as a homeless drifter named Carl Phanor. Six months later, the attacker struck again twice, including the brutal rape of a woman this month just feet from the site of the March assault, says the New York Times. The police Department, whose handling of sex crimes is the subject of a civil-rights investigation, is facing criticism that it did not do enough to prevent further attacks.

“That’s just ridiculous that this happened that many times,” said Gabrielle Sumkin, 23, who called 911 after coming across the third victim bleeding from her elbows and asking for help. “I don’t understand why they didn’t notice the problem and do something about it.” A sex criminal’s ability to strike repeatedly in one of the city’s most watched corners can be attributed in part to distractions. Two weeks after the March attack, a mass subway shooting drained law enforcement resources. The delay in arresting a suspect shows holes in New York’s vast surveillance dragnet, especially for the chronically homeless, as well as the department’s persistent problems with sexual violence. More than 8,600 sex crimes are reported to New York police each year; one in 10 involve victims attacked by strangers. Most rape investigations revolve around the issue of consent between people who know each other. In stranger attacks, identifying a suspect and finding evidence are the main challenges. Such crimes take more police resources and have higher clearance rates. In the New York case, Phanor, 29, was arrested Nov. 3, hours after the last assault, as he tried to board a bus out of town.

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