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May 15, 2003

Deaf Woman Raped In Vacant House

From: Newsday - May 15, 2003

By Daryl Khan and Melanie Lefkowitz Staff Writers

A 21-year-old deaf woman was raped in a vacant house in East New York after four men forced her inside and set upon her, police said Thursday.

The victim, who also cannot talk, was sexually assaulted by at least three of the four men and might have known one of them, police sources said.

The rape occurred about 3 p.m. Wednesday as the woman, who lives in a nearby public housing development, was accosted on her way to the A train, which she planned to take into Manhattan to take a class, police said.

One or two men dragged her a short distance into the building, where they were joined by the two other suspects, police said.

The 72-year-old red brick building, at 1268 Blake Ave. near Pine Street, houses four vacant apartments and appears to be owned by Asset Management Specialist, a Levittown, Pa., firm selling the building for $300,000.

Officials there could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

A sign posted in the building indicates that it had been previously seized by the federal government in a foreclosure action.

Another sign showed the building had been inspected on Monday.

Residents on the block say the building had been unoccupied for about five years.

After the attack, the woman notified a friend, who called police.

The victim was interviewed briefly Wednesday, with her family translating in sign language for detectives.

The building where the attack occurred is one of only seven in the immediate area. One nearby resident said the home next to where the woman was raped is a spot where teens hang out and smoke marijuana.

Other residents were stunned by news of the attack.

"I have two little daughters," said one woman, Wanda McKnight. "The same thing could have happened to them while going to the store."

Police said the suspects are believed to be in their late teens or early 20s.

The rape comes as police statistics show that reported rapes are up 3.5 percent for the week ending May 11, to 714, from 690 a year ago.

Police have said much of the increase is fueled by a surge in incidents of acquaintance rape, which are up about 17 percent this year.

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