Cuauhtemoc Cardenas was arraigned on a four-count indictment charging the defendant with rape, sexual assault, assault and criminal obstruction of breathing. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
According to the charges, before sunset on Saturday, July 25, the 32-year-old defendant approached a woman as she walked on a trail inside Forest Park. He tapped her on the shoulder and when she turned toward him, Cardenas hit her in the face and tried to kiss her.
The sudden blow knocked the woman to the ground. Cardenas then allegedly dragged the victim into the bushes, pulled down her pants and got on top of her. As the victim fought, Cardenas wrapped a cloth around her neck that restricted her breathing.
The victim was able to scream for help, which alerted a passerby. Cardenas ran away from the area.
The victim was treated at a nearby Queens hospital for her injuries. The defendant, who is believed to be homeless, was apprehended two days later after surveillance photos of him were circulated in the press.
“What should have been an idyllic stroll through the park turned into a maelstrom of violence for the victim in this case, who courageously fought off her attacker,” said Katz. “We are all entitled to enjoy our neighborhoods without fear.”