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Laundry worker abused customer: DA

An employee of Laundry Haven in Woodhaven was convicted of sexual abuse against a female customer. Photo by Caroll Alvarado
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A Howard Beach man was convicted of sexually abusing a female customer of the Laundromat at which he worked, the district attorney said Friday.

According to trial testimony, in March the 40-year-old woman was using the Laundromat, on Woodhaven Boulevard, at about 4:30 a.m. She left and began walking home while her clothes were still inside the washer.

Richard Kassebaum, 42, of 84-09 155th Ave., an employee of the Laundromat, followed the woman out. As she turned the corner, he grabbed her from behind and choked her, causing her to fall to the ground and knocking her glasses off her head, according to the criminal complaint filed by the DA’s office.

Kassebaum grabbed the victim’s buttocks and the woman screamed and ran from the location, the complaint said.

She later identified her attacker as a man wearing a navy blue short-sleeve shirt and jeans.

Video surveillance from within the Laundromat and elsewhere showed Kassebaum, dressed in the way the victim described, leaving the Laundromat and then following her, according to trial testimony. The Laundromat’s video surveillance also shows him running back inside later.

Kassebaum was convicted of sexual abuse and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, the DA said. He faces up to seven years in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for next Thursday. He has been held in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail since his April 1 arrest, the DA said.

“The defendant stands convicted of a crime of violence and being a sexual predator who subjected his victim to a terrorizing ordeal,” Richard Brown said. “He poses a serious threat to public safety and, under the circumstances, a significant prison sentence is more than warranted.”

Kassebaum had been found guilty of manslaughter in 1990, according to police.

According to a 1990 New York Times article, a 19-year-old Richard Kassebaum was charged with stabbing to death his 49-year-old aunt in her Flushing home. Police had investigated whether the victim had also been sexually assaulted because her clothing had been cut away, the Times said.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 3:53 pm, August 29, 2013
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