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Rosedale taxi rape victim disputes STD testing law

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A woman livery cab driver who was raped in a Rosedale alley last month is trying to draw attention to the legal difficulties sexual-assault victims face, the head of a state taxi drivers group said this week.

The woman, who has not been identified, and the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers President Fernando Mateo hope to change state laws that require a sexual assault suspect to consent to medical tests before conviction and that do not provide relocation money for victims who were attacked by strangers.

In a telephone interview, Mateo said the woman, who is from the Bronx, was attacked on Easter Sunday. Just after 10 p.m., she picked up a passenger who asked to be taken to Newark but then told her to take him to a Rosedale address to get his girlfriend, he said.

When they reached the address — 249-52 Craft Ave. in Rosedale — the man pulled a gun on the woman and ordered her to get in the back of the car and take her clothes off, Mateo said. The man then raped and sodomized her, he said.

The man later drove around Queens while the woman lay in the back of the car, still naked, Mateo said.

“He raped her repeatedly and drove her around the neighborhood where he hung out,” he said. “He told her that if she should say anything his friends would kill her.”

Finally he stopped the car at a movie theater on Cross Bay Boulevard and told the woman he would be right back, taking her keys, her cellular phone and her identification, Mateo said. After he had been gone for more than an hour, the woman used a spare key to start the car and escape, he said.

Three days after the attack, police arrested Ramell Rodgers, 19, of 230-46 144th Ave. in Rosedale, on charges of sodomy and robbery, police said.

But Rodgers cannot be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, without his consent unless he is convicted of the crimes, Mateo said. The woman has been taking a variety of medications as a precaution against the diseases, he said.

“The laws do nothing to protect you,” Mateo said. “You want to know if the person who raped you has AIDS or STDs or anything else, but the laws don’t allow for that.”

Mateo is working with Gov. George Pataki and state legislators to change the law, he said. He is also pressing for changes to laws that provide relocation money to people who are sexually assaulted by some one they know. Money is not provided for victims who were attacked by strangers, Mateo said.

The woman, who has three teenage sons, has been too afraid to drive a cab or stay at her Bronx home, Mateo said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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