A 57-year-old man has been arrested for attempted rape just 10 days after he was released from the notorious Rikers Island.
Robert Pondexter had been let out of the New York jail on April 15 amid efforts to improve social distancing and prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities, the New York Post reported.
But just 10 days later, police sources say Pondexter grabbed a 58-year-old woman by the collar and dragged her into a school parking lot as he was crossing the street from the supportive housing development Concern Heights Apartments.
The woman, who did not know Pondexter, claims he choked her and forced her to perform oral sex before demanding she remove her pants, but she was able to kick him away and escape.
Earlier this month district attorneys from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island accused de Blasio of backtracking on a promise not to release violent and sexual offenders from Rikers Island (pictured)
The woman was taken to a hospital and Pondexter was arrested at the scene. Police discovered him with a crack pipe at around 5:45 a.m. on Saturday on East New York Avenue in Brooklyn.
He faces charges of attempted rape and sexual assault, among others, sources told the Post.
Pondexter had previously been detained at Rikers on a prior rape charge relating to a separate attack on a different woman.
He had allegedly known that victim and used drugs with her. Charges were later dropped when the victim became uncooperative, sources said.
He was in jail on an unrelated parole violation when he was released on April 15 as part of an effort to reduce the spread of the virus at Rikers, which is one of the largest jails in the world and houses around 5,300 inmates.
The New York Post reported that Pondexter was still awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Sunday evening.
De Blasio said it was ‘unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy’ when released from Rikers Island and ‘this is what some of them have done’
Overcrowded state prisons in New York – the epicenter of the virus in the US – have struggled to contain the spread of the infection.
New York has 282,000 known cases of coronavirus and close to 16,600 deaths recorded.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio revealed a staggering 2,000 inmates have been released since mid-March due to the pandemic as the virus pummelled correctional facilities.
About three per cent of those released have since reoffended.
In 2019, the New York City Council approved an $8 billion plan to permanently shutter the jail complex by 2026
Earlier this month district attorneys from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island accused de Blasio of backtracking on a promise not to release violent and sexual offenders from Rikers Island.
A letter obtained by Fox News said: ‘We were assured that the release would not include those serving time for domestic violence or sex offenses, given the risks to victims. Unfortunately, we later learned that such individuals were indeed included in the ranks of those to be released.’
The letter said that while they agreed to release hundreds of people due to health concerns, they had serious concerns with some of those recommended for release by de Blasio’s administration.
‘Even at this difficult time, our society must have the ability to safeguard those who are incarcerated, to avoid violating their rights or endangering the community,’ the prosecutors said. ‘In short, we should not have to make release decisions that we know will put communities at risk.’
Earlier this month district attorneys from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island accused de Blasio of backtracking on a promise not to release violent and sexual offenders from Rikers Island
Earlier this month, a convicted murderer released from Rikers Island amid the viral outbreak was rearrested for bank robbery.
Speaking at a press conference last week De Blasio said: ‘I think it’s unconscionable just on a human level that folks were shown mercy and this is what some of them have done.
‘We’re going to just keep buckling down on it, making sure there’s close monitoring and supervision to the maximum step possible. And the NYPD is going to keep doing what they’re doing.’
‘Some have done the wrong thing and they’ll pay the consequences. The vast majority haven’t,’ de Blasio told Fox News on Sunday.
De Blasio’s representatives said reoffenders would be tried for their alleged crimes.
One said: ‘The justice system will and should take its course here and hold these individuals accountable.’
In 2019, the New York City Council approved an $8 billion plan to permanently shutter the jail complex by 2026.
De Blasio’s office was contacted for comment.