An elderly woman relaxes in Central Park on a late summer day to enjoy an afternoon of bird watching. This should be an enjoyable activity; one that perhaps gives this woman a brief respite from the noise and the crowds of New York City. Instead, she was raped. And it turns out that the predator who attacked her has a long and scary criminal history.
David Albert Mitchell was arrested last week and charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, a criminal sex act, and robbery assault. He attacked his victim during daylight hours in an area of the park known as Strawberry Fields. The fact that this horrible event was not their first encounter helped the woman identify Mitchell as her attacker. She had photographed Mitchell a little more than a week earlier when she spotted him fondling himself in that same area of the park. Mitchell caught her documenting his act and confronted her, demanding unsuccessfully that she delete the photo. She did not, and was able to hand over the evidence to police following her assault.
Once arrested, authorities learned that Mitchell had a violent past in both Virginia and West Virginia. He was infamous in his small West Virginia town, so much so that when he was released from prison after an eight-year sentence he served for abducting his girlfriend, the local residents bought guns for protection. He was known particularly for his tendency to harass and assault older woman, and actually was acquitted of a brutal rape and murder of an 83-year-old woman more than two decades ago. That violent habit followed him to New York, where he lived as a homeless drifter.
That is one brave woman for documenting a wrong and standing up to a frightening criminal. Her courage in that one instance proved invaluable when she had to identify him a few days later. Another instance of the important and amazing role that technology can play in bringing a perpetrator to justice!
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