‘Everything changes in a moment’

A woman who says police let the man who sexually assaulted her on 16th Street walk away revealed the shocking details of the attack and the investigation to this newspaper. The victim agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.

She knew someone was following her.

It was just before 5 am on May 23 and the soft-spoken 22-year-old had just got off the train on Fourth Avenue on her way home from work at a Manhattan nightclub.

As she neared Sixteenth Street, she sensed someone behind her — then she felt a hand reach underneath her skirt and grab her.

She turned around to confront her attacker — she’d read about self-defense in a rape prevention class — but the stocky man, who wore a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, grabbed her again, this time, from the front.

“Get off me!” she screamed.

The creep then took off running and a neighbor, who happened to hear her yell, dashed out of his house to give chase.

The good Samaritan says he caught up to the man near Fourth Avenue, grabbed him, and called the cops.

Shocked and flustered, the woman walked to her home less than a block away to calm down.

“I was scared — I felt lost,” she said. “I just wanted the situation to go away.”

At her apartment, she splashed water on her face and walked over to the window. That’s when she saw a black unmarked police car roll past with lights flashing. It didn’t stop.

A second cop car parked on the block ten minutes later, but the officers quickly released the man detained by neighbors.

Witnesses say they told the officers the victim was just steps away, but they never came to her door.

The victim, cops would later say, wasn’t at the scene the moment they arrived.

Days later, police circulated surveillance video showing a man resembling the individual they released at the scene and asked Park Slope residents for help tracking him down.

“They should have held onto the guy, taken a photo or at least gotten his ID,” the victim said.

Two 72nd Precinct officers involved in the incident have since been placed on “modified duty” pending an investigation and cops are still looking for the suspect.

The victim says she has since worked with different, more helpful officers to create a sketch of the attacker in an attempt to prevent similar assaults against women in the neighborhood one year after a spree of sexual assaults in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge.

“It all happened so quickly,” she said. “Everything changes in a moment.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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