Nashane Peterkin ordered held without bail in Valley Stream sexual assaults

Nassau Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki said at a news conference Monday afternoon that investigators linked suspect Nashane A. Peterkin to the sex crimes through DNA and a line-up identification by one of the victims. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Sept. 9, 2013)

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DNA and a victim identification linked a Queens teenager -- whom authorities called a "serial sexual predator" -- to two recent sexual assaults in Valley Stream, Nassau police said Monday.

Nashane A. Peterkin, 16, a high school student who lived at home with his family in Queens, was ordered held without bail Monday at his arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead. He was charged as an adult with first-degree rape, second-degree assault and strangulation, and attempted sexual assault stemming from the two attacks.

Investigators are trying to determine if Peterkin was also involved in a similar sexual assault in Lynbrook just 20 minutes before he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in Valley Stream and are looking at whether Peterkin may have been involved in other unsolved cases, police said.

"This is extremely unique and extremely rare," said Nassau Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki, referring to a single assailant -- especially one so young -- attacking women in that area. "He's a very dangerous young man."

Skrynecki said Peterkin was "very much sexually motivated" to commit the crimes "by his sexual needs and desires."

Police would not specify the source of the DNA that linked Peterkin to the crime or say which victim had identified him.

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Skrynecki said Nassau police and other agencies, including State Police and State Park Police, worked on the case with the NYPD. Asked whether Peterkin has a criminal record, Skrynecki said, "He was known to NYPD."

At his arraignment, Peterkin's Legal Aid attorney said her client had lived in Queens for the past seven years and had previously lived in Brooklyn. She requested bail.

Assistant District Attorney Theresa Tebbett requested Peterkin be remanded to jail, asserting prosecutors have a "strong case" against him.

Peterkin's father was in court but had no comment. He covered his face with his blazer as he left the courthouse.

Nassau County police and State Park Police arrested Peterkin on Sunday in Howard Beach, Queens, after a manhunt during which police stepped up patrols and distributed fliers with a composite sketch of the suspect.

Authorities said one victim, a woman in her 60s, was walking alone on a hiking trail near Valley Stream State Park's Hendrickson Avenue entrance about 11:10 a.m. on Sept. 1 when she was attacked. Police said he choked and beat the victim, leaving her with broken ribs and a bruised face.

Three weeks earlier -- on Aug. 12 -- police said he attempted to rape a woman who was walking south on Mill Road from the Long Island Rail Road's Valley Stream station.

The 30-year-old woman, who was seven months pregnant at the time, told police that as she was walking, a man on a bicycle grabbed her as he rode by. He attempted to rip off her shirt and pin her to the ground, but she told police she was able to fight him off and he fled on the bike.

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Police are trying to determine if Peterkin was involved in another attack on Aug. 12 in Lynbrook, which happened 20 minutes before the train station assault.

In that attack, a 58-year-old Lynbrook woman told police the suspect approached her outside her house, punched her, pushed her into the house and attempted to take off her clothes. The man fled on his bicycle as the woman screamed out to neighbors for help.

Police did not publicly release details of the Aug. 12 attacks until after the Sept. 1 rape. Asked if police should have alerted residents to the potential danger earlier, Skrynecki said after last month's sexual assaults, "the investigation was cranked up at that time," but police were "still trying to determine whether there was relativity."

Peterkin, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count, is due back in court Wednesday.

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