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Long IslandCrime

Police: Woman, 73, raped in Central Park

A 73-year-old woman bird-watching in Central Park was raped around lunchtime Wednesday by a man whom she had recently photographed performing a lewd act in the bushes, police said.

The victim was being treated for the attack in the bushes by the Strawberry Fields section near West 74th Street and Central Park West, according to investigators. Police said the suspect remains at large.

Police didn't know the extent of her injuries late Wednesday.

An NYPD spokesman said about a week ago the victim discovered the suspect, described as about 40 to 50 years old, masturbating near the Bramble, a wooded area north of Central Park Lake, and snapped his picture. The suspect unsuccessfully demanded that the woman delete the image, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

The scene of Wednesday's attack is about 2,000 feet from where she had photographed the man, police said.

Moments before the attack Wednesday, the suspect asked her, "Do you remember me?" in what the woman described as a Russian or Ukranian accent, said Browne.

Afterward, the man took the woman's backpack and attempted to take her watch, but the band broke, said Browne. He then fled with the backpack, which contained a camera, although police aren't sure if it was the one she used to take the man's photograph, he said. Police are hoping that they can obtain an image of the man from the photograph.

A passerby made a 911 call to police. The case is being investigated by the Manhattan Special Victims unit.

Central Park is generally considered one of the safer areas of the city; its police precinct received only 69 reports of serious felonies this year through Sunday. Until Wednesday, there had been no rapes reported in the park this year, compared with two in 2011. Overall crime in the Central Park precinct is down about 1.5 percent from last year and 18.62 percent compared with 2010.

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