October 26, 2011
Word Count: 570
New testimony in the case of an alleged rapist was presented at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday. The defendant, Hugues Akassy, 43, has been indicted for 24 counts ranging from rape in the first degree, stalking, petit larceny and criminal trespassing.
The alleged victim, Bess Greenberg, a photographer who works at a gallery on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, first met Akassy in December 2009 outside the gallery. She is one of five of Akassy’s alleged victims.
Greenberg claimed she was stalked and harassed by him on separate accounts, ranging from threatening phone calls to aggressive confrontation. On January 29, 2010, he had stolen Greenberg’s keys, denied it and then confessed, saying he had done it to “protect her” and that “he is the one who should be trusted,” according to Greenberg.
“He crossed the line and took it for his own. I felt a complete lack of communication. It was either accept his word or be wrong,” said Greenberg.
The defendant frequently called and left several voicemails on Greenberg’s cell phone, which escalated into confrontation after a trespassing incident occurred on February 3, 2010, Greenberg said. She had been in the process of preparing for an event early in the day, when she saw Akassy hiding behind a pillar in the gallery.
“I was in shock and disbelief. I had a fear of not being able to register what was in my mind,” said Greenberg. After faking a phone conversation and leaving the premises, she locked Akassy in the gallery and then notified her brother and the police. At the time, she did not request for Akassy to be arrested and said she was “too scared,” which she said she later regretted.
Police searched the belongings of the defendant, which were kept in the gallery with permission from Greenberg but was later revoked. Inside the bag was a sleeping mat suggesting the defendant had been squatting on the premises. During their first meeting, he told Greenberg he was staying at a YMCA location close to the gallery.
Akassy, who introduced himself to Greenberg as a “journalist,” is actually homeless.
Also among the alleged victims was a Russian tourist on vacation in the U.S., according to Heidi Schneider, an intern at the district attorney. Testifying in the rape case was Barbara Schnoor, a nurse from St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan where the victim was admitted after the crime took place on July 27, 2010, according to police documents. There were five alleged victims, including one rape victim. Schnoor did not testify in the victim’s place but testified in the rape case.
“He had pushed her into a wall, he grabbed her, kissed her on the mouth and pulled her pants off,” said Schnoor in her testimony. Evidence presented by the defense depicted external injuries ranging from bruises on the rib area to red marks on the buttocks. Lacerations were present in the genital area that indicated a forced sexual encounter on the victim, Schnoor testified.
A forensic examination conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed traces of semen, saliva and the victim’s blood present on her genitals, said forensic scientist Jason Kolowski, who testified on the witness stand. Though a DNA evaluation was conducted on the semen sample, scientists were not able to determine whom the sample belonged to.
The trial is in its second week and is to continue Wednesday.
Should Akassy be found guilty of rape in the first degree, he faces eight to 25 years in prison according to Joan Vallero, Deputy Director of Communications at the District Attorney’s office.
- Barbara Schnoor, nurse, St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital
- Beth Greenberg, photographer and gallery owner, 45 Central Park West, NY
- Jason Kolowski, forensic scientist, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
- Heidi Schneider, intern, New York Country District Attorney’s office
- Joan Vallero, Deputy Director of Communications, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., (212) 335-9400, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Official Indictment Waiver, Case #2010NY055835, #2009NY034165