A 30-year old man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for brutally raping a female jogger in East River Park two years ago.
The ordeal happened in November of 2015 near the East River Park bandshell. Prosecutors said Paul Niles dragged the victim by her hair from the footpath near Jackson Street into the amphitheater and assaulted her. He then stole the woman’s phone and credit card, and used the credit card to make purchases at a bodega in Brooklyn.
Niles was convicted of first degree rape, second degree robbery, as well as second degree strangulation by a Manhattan jury last month. A judge sentenced him to 40 years, plus 20-years of post-release supervision.
District Attorney Cy Vance said, “This was a brutal stranger assault, and I commend the victim for her bravery in bringing her attacker to justice, as well as the prosecutors and members of law enforcement who worked tirelessly on this case. According to a report on runner safety, more than 40 percent of women have experienced harassment while jogging. Female runners should be able to engage in this activity without fear of being threatened, sexually assaulted, or worse.”
When the attack happened in 2015, local residents complained about poor lighting in East River Park. Although the city installed new lighting as a result, we just heard from a reader today who said the new fixtures are not working. The reader warned, “It’s only a matter of time before something bad happens.” We’ll be looking into the issue.
Over the weekend, police took 28-year-old Paul Niles into custody in connection with last Wednesday evening’s rape in East River Park. We reported the arrest on Saturday. Here’s an update.
Saturday at about 6:30 pm., Niles flagged down a police car in Southeastern Queens and turned himself in. He has been charged with first degree rape, two counts of robbery and identity theft. Niles pleaded not guilty. His lawyer said he did not admit to being involved in the incident. Niles is being held without bail. “Prosecutors allege, the Post reported, that “Niles made statements to investigators that alluded to the robbery.”
In the attack, Niles is accused of dragging a 26-year-old woman from the foot bridge near Jackson Street, raping her in the area near the East River bandshell and stealing her credit card and phone. He took off on a bike and used the credit card at a local bodega. Surveillance footage helped cops identify the suspect. Cops say Niles tried to attack another woman in the same area earlier Wednesday. He was scared off when she pretended to call 911.
News reports describe Niles as a homeless man with a police record. There are active cases in Brooklyn for criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. According to the Daily News, the defendant told police he has been living in a rehab facility and a homeless shelter and is suicidal. Niles has been placed on suicide watch. He’s due back in court on the Lower East Side charges on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, high powered lights have been set up in the area around the bandshell and police have stepped up patrols. Residents have long complained about poor security and lighting in the area.
May 28, 2015 | Here’s a shot of the playing fields at East River Park | Weather: A mix of clouds and sun with afternoon thunderstorms possible and a high of 85 | Happening Today: It’s the kickoff of the New Museum’s Ideas City | Send us your photos and tips | Subscribe to our daily email | Please consider our Small Business Survival Campaign.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Spring colors are bursting in Corlears Hook Park, as you can see from this photo submitted by Greta Cohen | Weather: After yesterday’s deluge, we’ll see mostly sunny skies and a high of 68 | Happening Today: The Street Vendor Project honors iconic Lower East Side business Yonah Schimmel | Send us your photos and news tips | Subscribe to our daily email.
Friday, March 20, 2015 | Eli Friedmann took this photo along FDR Drive near the Williamsburg Bridge | Weather: To usher in the first day of spring, we’re expecting a snow storm. Flakes start falling around noon with 4-6 inches expected. Look for a high of 38. Partly sunny tomorrow with a high of 51. Mostly sunny Sunday and 45 | Happening Today: Gallery openings at Sargent’s Daughters and Nicelle Beauchene | Send us your photos and tips | Subscribe to our daily email.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 | Today’s photo offers a glimpse of the big thaw in progress inside East River Park | Weather: Rain showers expected this afternoon. Otherwise, we’ll see cloudy skies and a high of 52. We may top 60 tomorrow! | Happening Today: Vendors go before Community Board 3’s land use committee to propose a change in management at the Essex Street Market, Seward Park Extension, 56 Essex St., 6:30 p.m. | Send us your photos and tips | Subscribe to our daily email.
Poet Mykki Blanco will perform at the East River Park Amphitheater on August 7 at 7 p.m.
In the final days of summer, City Parks’ SummerStage is at last returning to the East River Park with a series of (free!) live performances and events beginning this evening. The shows, which run the gamut from live music by the likes of Mykki Blanco, Instant Funk and Carol Williams, along with theater from the New York Neofuturists and an anniversary celebration for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe(we’ll be there!).
One interactive evening to watch for is Spectrum Dance Theater, which will perform at 8:00 p.m. on August 8th. The performance follows a master class, open to all levels, taught by award-winning dancer, Germaul Barnes. Barnes is currently the artistic director and founder of Viewsic Expressions Dance, a New York based dance organization that presents multimedia dance performances and educational residencies around the globe. In addition to having lots of teaching experience in New York City, he also received the 2003 New York Dance and Performance Award.
If reading any of this makes you want to dance (or swing by for a few shows), here’s more info on Friday’s dance events, along with the complete East River Park SummerStage schedule. The series runs through August 17th and take place at the East River Park Amphitheater.
East River Park. Photos by Chris Castillo & Barbara Michelini.
Here’s the scene at East River Park this afternoon.
Beginning this evening, King Kong comes to Summerstage at the East River Park bandshell. A few days ago, we spoke with the creators of this irreverent version of the classic story.
East River Park. Photo by David Flaherty.
A graduation ceremony at east River Park!? Well, maybe a fictitious one. The banner above the bandshell reads, “Midtown Science,” a pretty good clue that Spider-Man is filming today on the East River.