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Brutal rape has residents of Fresh Meadows on edge

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On Saturday night, a 25-year-old woman taking out her garbage at her apartment near Cunningham Park was attacked by a man who dragged her inside the building and raped her, police said. Police said the suspect asked the woman for the time outside her apartment near 188th Street and 69th Avenue before forcing her indoors onto the stairway and punching her into submission. Police were searching for the attacker they described as a 6-foot-2 black male in his 20s, weighing about 220 pounds. In another incident, a Fresh Meadows security guard last week was charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in Brooklyn while posing as a city police officer, the Brooklyn district attorney said. Police said Harry Mercado, 23, of Brooklyn, met the girl in an Internet chat room Dec. 31. Over the next month, Mercado, while pretending to be a detective, arranged several meetings where he allegedly raped and sodomized the young girl, police said. The girl, who lives in Ozone Park, told police last Thursday about the abuse, the DA said. That same night the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau had the girl meet Mercado at 10-65 Bushwick Ave. where they then arrested him, police said. Although police arrested him on charges of rape, the DA said Mercado, who was arraigned Friday, currently faces the lesser charge of sexual abuse in the third degree along with impersonating an officer. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, the DA said. Park Avenue Security, at 188-02 64th Ave in Fresh Meadows, where Mercado was a guard, did not return calls for comment. Fresh Meadows residents of the complex where Saturday night's rape occurred, were shocked Monday upon hearing the news. Dawn Hilton, a nurse and tenant in the complex for about year, said she had never before been nervous living in the area. "Yes, I felt safe, though I guess now I'll be looking over my shoulder when going into the laundry room," she said. "I'll certainly be more cautious." One young married couple said nothing so serious has occurred during their two years of living there. "The worst thing that's happened was when my hubcap was stolen from my car last year," the husband said. After a pause, however, the man said he had noticed that security guards were patrolling the grounds less frequently than in the past. The two rapes follow the recent arrest of Roy Williams, whom police have accused of raping a 34-year-old woman in her car in Jamaica Estates Jan. 12 -- a day before allegedly pistol-whipping Sister Margaret Faherty, 69, outside the Immaculate Conception convent on Midland Parkway. Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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