Updated 09/14/2012 03:58 PM
Homeless Man Arraigned In Central Park Rape
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A man has been arraigned in connection with the rape of a 73-year-old woman in Central Park, which took place in broad daylight Wednesday.
Authorities say David Mitchell, 42, faces charges of predatory and sexual assault, robbery assault, rape and engaging in a criminal sex act.
Authorities say Mitchell is homeless and has a lengthy criminal record.
Police say the victim was bird watching a few blocks from Strawberry Fields around 11 a.m. when she was beaten, sexually assaulted and robbed.
Around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, officials say Police Officers Enmanuel Rodriguez, Steven Ourelio and Sicelin Ortiz were walking up Amsterdam Avenue, when Mitchell walked right towards them.
He was found just blocks away from Strawberry Fields, where police say the assault took place Wednesday morning.
The victim apparently had a run-in with her attacker several days ago.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the woman inadvertently took a photograph of the man several days ago as he exposed himself in the park.
Mitchell spat at reporters as he was being taken to central booking early Friday morning in Lower Manhattan.
He has reportedly served time for robbery and kidnapping in West Virginia.
State police in West Virginia also say he was considered a suspect in the 2002 murder of a woman there, but that there was never enough information or probable cause to arrest him.
Meantime, city lawmakers are trying to reassure the public that the park is safe.
City Council speaker Christine Quinn said the victim, an avid bird watcher, plans to return to the park, saying she won't yield her park to criminals.
"I think we need to be very impressed with the fortitude of this woman and really the message that she is sending out there, that she will be back in the park, that she is a survivor, that this is her city, that she is not going to yield it to him or anyone else," Quinn said.
In an effort to increase a feeling of security, the city is setting up self defense classes at senior centers throughout the city.
There will also be a citywide self defense class on October 7 at the North Meadow Recreation Center.