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Comrie urges task force after string of sex attacks

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City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) is pushing the city to reconsider an offer he made to the police to create a new sex crimes task force in light of the string of sexual assaults that took the southeast Queens community by storm last week.

Four women were sexually assaulted by unidentified men in Springfield Gardens, Jamaica and Laurelton in a 48-hour period between July 8 and July 10, police said. Comrie expressed concern over the situation because the neighborhood had seen a surge in sexual crimes in the last couple of months.

"Rape is a crime that carries not only physical but psychological consequences that affect the victims and everyone who knows and loves them," he said in a statement.

The councilman said he has made appeals to the NYPD to start a special task force that would thoroughly investigate and apprehend Queens rapists. Although Comrie said the proposal was rejected when he first offered it in February, he urged police administrators to strongly reconsider it.

"It is time for the NYPD and this administration to begin admitting we are losing some ground in the fight against crime and act accordingly," the councilman said.

Police are looking for a black man age 19-23, 5-foot-8 inches, with a medium build and close-cut black hair, who they say assaulted two women who were waiting for the Q85 bus late at night.

Last Thursday, a 23-year-old woman was approached by a man from the bus stop near North Conduit Avenue and 225th Street and taken to the rear of 224-50 Edgewood Ave. where she was sexually assaulted, police said.

Two days earlier police said the same suspect approached an 18-year-old woman at knife-point at a stop near 140th Avenue and South Gate Street, forced her to back of 179-37 137th St., raped her and fled the scene.

Officers were also looking for another man who sodomized at knife-point a girl, 16, in the rear of an abandoned church at Merrill Street and Broacher Road around 8:30 a.m. July 9, police said.

The suspect was described as a black male who wore a hooded sweatshirt and had a bandana featuring dollar bills that covered his face, according to police. The victim told officers the suspect had a tattoo of the letter "D" on his right wrist, which may be part of a longer word or message, police said.

The same suspect has been linked to seven other rapes in southeast Queens that date back to Nov. 11, according to police.

The authorities were not saying whether or not one of these two suspects was linked to another sexual assault that occurred in Springfield Gardens early Thursday morning. A 23-year-old woman was sexually assaulted on 146th Avenue sometime after 12:30 a.m. by a man who may have impersonated an officer, according to Comrie.

Across the city, rape has been up this year by 8.8 percent from 725 incidents in 2007 and 666 in 2006, according to NYPD statistics. The councilman said Queens Patrol South has seen a sharp rise in sexual assaults this year, with 101 reported rape crimes compared to 68 in Queens Patrol North.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential. There is a $12,000 reward per suspect for information leading to the capture of the accused rapists.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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