Suspect sought in Highland Park sexual attack

Chief Stephen Rizco of the Highland Park Police Department said authorities are searching for a suspect who severely beat and sexually assaulted a borough woman at gunpoint.

The 36-year-old woman was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where she is listed in stable condition.

Police were alerted to the attack on February 19, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. when a resident of Harper Street called police after the victim ran to the neighbor’s home following the attack.

The assault is being investigated by Detective Sean McGraw of the Highland Park Police Department and Detective Allie Bitterman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, said Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

During the investigation it was determined that the victim was walking on Harper Street when the suspect approached her at gunpoint, forced her in the basement of a nearby apartment building, and repeatedly punched her before sexually assaulting her and fleeing.

The suspect is described as a black male in his early to mid-20s, five-feet, seven-inches tall with a medium build and short hair. He was wearing a red T-shirt, black jacket and grey sweatpants.

The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective McGraw of the Highland Park Police Department at (723) 572-3800, or Detective Bitterman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4401.

Only 444 of the 1,314 rapes reported to police in New Jersey last were were solved, said Lisa McCOrmick, a Democratic candidate for governor who says the high number of unsolved crimes reflects the dysfunctional government that needs to be fixed.

Police in Highland Park made 21 arrests for the 180 crimes reported to the department in 2016, according to Uniform Crime Reports published by the State Police. That represents a clearance rate of under 12 percent.

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