News | Student Life

University affiliate assaulted in Riverside Park

Updated, July 9, 2:30 p.m.

A University affiliate was assaulted in Riverside Park on Monday, according to Barnard Director of Public Safety Dianna Pennetti. The victim has been identified as Marisa Cortright, BC '13 who was taken to St. Luke's hospital.

In an email to Barnard summer residents, Pennetti said that the victim had been running at 5:30 a.m. by the 119th Street tennis courts. She was attacked and lost consciousness. There was also a second assault, which involved a woman walking her dog in the park near 98th Street less than an hour later.

According to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, NYPD has a person of interest in the case. He is described as a black male in his 40s, around 235 pounds and between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4.

A police spokesperson said that as of Thursday evening, they had not changed the description or status of the person of interest, nor had there been any arrests. An officer on call was unaware of any further tips that have been submitted since releasing the description of the accused assailant.

Pennetti sent out another email alert Friday to residents, telling them that the NYPD is investigating the assaults, and urging residents to take extra safety precautions—walk with friends, use well-populated streets, don't be distracted by a phone, don't expose fine jewelry, and always head to a populated area or a Safe Haven in a dangerous situation.

"In light of this and other incidents in the neighborhood, I urge you to take your personal safety into consideration at all times," Pennetti wrote in the email sent after the incident. "In particular, when entering the park in the early morning, around dusk, and after dark, always go with a friend and be aware of your surroundings."

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Anonymous posted on

It's a difficult park to patrol. There really isn't space for a police squad car to drive on the path, which is intended for bicyclists, joggers, skaters and pedestrians. The best way to increase safety would be for the police dept. and Columbia Safety to add bicycle patrols and install cameras in the park. The tennis courts would be a perfect location for cameras. You really are "on your own" in that area. There's nothing illegal about carrying a baseball bat or hockey stick. Just be prepared to use it if necessary!

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