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Women On Edge As Police Search For Attempted Rape Suspect In East Village

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police on Wednesday were still trying to track down a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the East Village, after apparently sneaking into her apartment building.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, police said a 32-year-old woman woke up in her bed around 3 a.m. Saturday to find the suspect standing over her.

The victim told investigators that she screamed and the suspect then allegedly jumped onto her bed, choked her, and then sexually assaulted her and tried to rape her, Burrell reported.

Police said the suspect left only after the victim continued screaming, threatening to call police.

The victim told investigators she believes the suspect followed her into her building through the main entrance and then later found her apartment door unlocked.

The victim admitted to investigators that she routinely leaves her apartment door unlocked, Burrell reported.

For women in the area such as Aylin Sweeney – who admitted she sometimes leaves her apartment door unlocked – the incident is her worst nightmare.

“I would be scared to death,” Sweeney said.

Other East Village residents said the incident was terrifying.

“It’s terrible; it’s very scary,” said Michelle Withim. “I live here. It’s a very safe neighborhood; it’s very family-oriented.”

“I’m very scared, because it can happen to anybody,” said Nini Huinh.

Withim said leaving a door unlocked is not unusual, since a lot has changed since the days decades ago when the neighborhood had a reputation for crime.

“In the last 20 years it has become very safe, so I could see that happening – you leave your door open,” she said.

But now, many women were shocked and disturbed by the allegations and said they will be taking extra caution.

“Every time I go in my building I always make sure that no one is following me or anything like that,” said Tania Sanchez. “It’s really sad to hear.”

The suspect was described as a Hispanic male in his 20s, standing 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds.

Police have released a sketch of the suspect.

Anyone with information was asked to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS, log onto the Crime Stoppers website, or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577.

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