NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The man accused in a brutal attempted rape on the Upper West Side appeared in court Saturday afternoon.
Desmond Smith, 32, was arrested Thursday and charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, strangulation and assault.
Police said the 37-year-old victim exited an Uber around 11 p.m. Wednesday near Central Park West and 84th Street. Smith allegedly approached her and tried to talk to her. When she ignored him, he allegedly threw her onto the ground, punched, stomped and bit her as he started to choke her and removed her clothing.
The woman bit him and screamed for help, police said.
“I was looking down from my window when I heard the loud argument and the screaming,” a neighbor told CBS2’s Alice Gainer. “I saw a guy with a girl lying on the floor, on the ground, and the guy was kicking her head. Then the attacker ripped the girl’s skirt and underwear.”
A doorman who was working nearby told Gainer he heard her screams and went to see what happened. He was trying to take a picture of the attacker, when the flash on his camera distracted the suspect.
“She was on the floor and he was on top of her. He was hitting her, basically, with hand or foot, I couldn’t see that, but also in the way I saw him pulling off the clothes,” Ernest Pjedri said. “He left her and was coming behind me.”
Pjedri said the man told him the woman owed him money.
Both the neighbor and the doorman called police, but the victim and suspect had both left separately before officers arrived.
According to court documents, the woman suffered fractures to her face and chest, as well as cuts and bruises to her face, neck, arms and legs.
Smith was arrested the following night.
Police said he lived at Skyway Men’s Shelter 83rd Street Annex, which is run by the Department of Homeless Services. He has 10 prior arrests, including assault, harassment and grand larceny.