NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn man with a long rap sheet was arrested in the brutal sex assault of an 85-year-old woman on the Upper East Side, police said.
Jeffrey Ritter, 32, was arraigned Thursday on charges of committing a criminal sexual act, assault, robbery and sexual abuse. As he walked out of the NYPD’s Special Victims office Thursday he told reporters, “It wasn’t me.”
Police said the attack happened around 5:40 a.m. Monday on 83rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues as the 85-year-old woman was on her morning walk.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Ritter Told Reporters “It Wasn’t Me”
Surveillance video obtained by CBS 2 shows the suspect dragging the woman in a headlock along the sidewalk. Moments later, police said, the suspect forced the elderly victim to perform a sex act in the stairwell of a building which is less than a block away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Ritter was previously arrested in August 2000 in Nebraska for the robbery and assault of a child. The child’s age was not disclosed.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond With Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted sex assault and was sentenced to two to four years in prison. It is unclear how much time Ritter actually served.
Ritter was again arrested in Arkansas for failing to register as a sex offender, Kelly said.
Ritter has been arrested at least 11 times all across the United States — including in Minnesota, North Dakota and California.
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria with details of the arrest
His arrest in East New York came following a tip from a woman received on Tuesday. Two patrol officers stopped and questioned Ritter but released him because they didn’t have “probable cause” to make an arrest, Kelly said.
After police discovered Ritter’s past record, he was taken into custody on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender in New York. He was then arrested at 1 a.m. Thursday on charges in connection with the sex attack on the 85-year-old woman.
Kelly said Ritter has made written and video taped confessions.
Neighbors said Ritter managed the building where he lived in East New York. Police said he also made money as a tattoo artist.
Ritter’s arrest brought relief to residents of what is widely viewed as one of the city’s safer neighborhoods.
Kathy Jolowicz, president and founding member of the East 83rd-84th Block Association, said the assault rattled the affluent area.
“I’m a woman [living] alone, and I can understand the helplessness that she must have felt,” Jolowicz said.
The victim is recovering in the hospital.
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