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SE Qns. leaders help residents fight back

Councilman Leroy Comrie (c) poses with residents who took part in his sponsored self-defense class. Photo courtesy Leroy Comrie's office
TimesLedger Newspapers

While the police continue to search for the suspects involved in the string of sexual attacks in southeast Queens, women in the area are learning how to fight back.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) hosted a special self-defense class for women Monday night at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in St. Albans in light of the seven sexual assaults that have taken place in southeast Queens since September.

Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) has also followed suit and scheduled his own self-defense class for Tuesday at the Queens Church of the First Born in Springfield Gardens.

Although there have been no new cases in the string of attacks since October, both elected officials said they were not taking any chances until the suspects were caught.

“This course is not only a way for people to learn how to defend themselves, but also make the community aware of what has been going on and learn ways they can avoid being attacked,” Comrie said in a statement.

The community has been on high alert since the sex attacks began Sept. 22 and there has been an increase in patrols in the area by police and community watchdog groups, including the Guardian Angels.

Despite the added sense of protection, people are still scared and need the self-defense classes, according to Sanders.

“In a way it’s sad that we have to do this, but I’d much rather take these basic, common sense steps to teach people how to ward off an attack than to have one more of my constituents suffer from an assault,” he said in a statement.

Last month a 15-year-old Springfield Gardens suspect was arrested and charged with two of the seven sex crimes.

On Oct. 9, a 40-year-old woman was trying to enter her home in Laurelton around 1 a.m., when the teen allegedly pushed her to the ground, punched her several times in the face and sexually abused her, investigators said.

A week later, he allegedly attacked and nearly sexually assaulted a woman as she was trying to enter her Brookville home around 7 p.m., according to prosecutors.

His case is currently being tried in Queens Family Court, prosecutors said. There have been no arrests in the five other sex assaults as of press time Tuesday.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), text their tips to 274637 (crimes) then enter TIP577 or log on to nypdcrimestoppers.com. All reports will be kept confidential.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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