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.