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Man charged in 8 assaults on Flushing Asian women

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A Flushing man who was on parole after serving five years in a federal prison was arrested last week in connection with a string of sexual assaults and robberies of Asian-American women in Flushing over a four-month period, authorities said.

Edwin Feliciano, who had been released from jail last July, has been charged in nine assaults in which Asian-American women in their 20s and 30s were raped, assaulted or robbed, usually inside an elevator in their apartment buildings, Chief of Detectives William Allee said at a news conference in Manhattan last Thursday.

Eight of the attacks occurred in downtown Flushing within a half-mile radius between 139th and 145th Streets and 38th Avenue, the chief said, and one was reported in Manhattan’s West Village. In three of the cases, the women were raped, then robbed, Allee said, and in two others the victims were placed in choke holds before being robbed.

Feliciano, 29, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens last Thursday on charges of rape, sexual abuse, robbery and sexual assault and was being held without bail, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. If convicted, Feliciano faces life in prison.

Fitting the description of a suspect wanted in connection with a series of sexual assaults and robberies that occurred between February and June, Feliciano was stopped by police on June 26 around 2:30 a.m. near 34th Avenue in Flushing, the police said. Officers asked him for identification and filled out a stop-and-frisk form, which is required whenever the police pull someone over, Allee said. Feliciano was then let go.

After running a background check that same morning, the police learned that Feliciano had a criminal history, Allee said. In 1993, he served 18 months in a state prison for assaulting and attempting to rape an Asian-American woman in the laundry room of her apartment building, the chief said. Most recently, Feliciano had completed a five-year sentence in a federal prison for transporting narcotics into the United States, Allee said. He had been on parole since July 2000.

One day after Feliciano was stopped on the street, the police contacted federal parole officers and obtained a recent photo of him, placed it in a photo array and showed it to one of the robbery victims, who identified Feliciano as her assailant, Allee told reporters at police headquarters at 1 Police Plaza.

On June 27, the police arrested Feliciano, who during the last few weeks had been installing decks in backyards near his place of employment in Manhattan, the chief said. That evening he was brought to the 109th Precinct in Flushing, where the three women who had been raped and robbed identified him as their attacker, Allee said.

Allee said that it took the police some time to link the nine attacks because several of them were only robberies while others involved elements of sexual assault or harassment. In addition, he said, the victims offered varying descriptions of the assailant, initially leading police to believe that different suspects had been involved.

An image of Feliciano captured by a video camera in the apartment building of one of the victims was what led officers to recognize Feliciano when they stopped him on June 26, Allee said.

Feliciano has been accused of both raping and robbing three of the victims, robbing three others, assaulting two and attempting to rape another, the chief said. Officials said Feliciano, a well-built man, never used a weapon, only physical force. In most of the attacks, he is suspected of following the women into their apartment buildings or waiting until someone opened the door. In one case, though, authorities believe Feliciano had a key.

“We don’t know why he singled out Asian victims,” Allee said. “The victim in Manhattan was also Asian. The first time he was arrested, that was also an Asian victim. It seems like that was his target of choice.”

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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