On Monday night, Guttenberg police arrested the 14-year-old suspect and charged him with the physical assault of a 22-year-old college student last November in a Guttenberg back alley, as she was returning home after parking her car on Madison Street around 10 p.m.
According to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, the teenage suspect was charged with aggravated assault in the incident, in which the victim fought off the attacker.
According to the Guttenberg police report, the perpetrator allegedly forced the victim into a back alley by putting his hand across the woman's mouth, but she resisted. The actor then allegedly pushed the woman's head against the wall, but she continued to struggle.
The victim blew a whistle that she had attached to her key ring. Several men came to her defense and the assailant fled the scene.
The woman was not severely hurt or sexually assaulted. Thus, the only criminal charge against the accused teen is aggravated assault.
"It could have been an attempted sexual assault, but the sexual assault did not occur," DeFazio said. "But there was physical assault on the young lady."
The young man is considered a suspect in the attempted sexual assaults of three other women in West New York, as well as one in North Bergen and another in Palisades Park.
Working on information gathered over the last eight months, Guttenberg police acted quickly Monday night to apprehend the teen and charge him with the crime.
The teenager was arrested near his West New York home Monday night. His mug shot was brought to a victim of an attempted sexual assault in North Bergen that had occurred just 10 days after the Guttenberg attack was reported.
That woman was assaulted during rush hour as she walked home.
According to a police report, a 17-year-old North Bergen girl was heading home between 6:25 and 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2006 on 72nd Street. She was followed by a Hispanic male, around 5-8 in height with olive complexion, wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of revolutionary Che Guevara.
The assailant allegedly grabbed the girl, shoved her, and grabbed her again, trying to kiss her on the mouth. The girl apparently tried to push the assailant away and in the tussle, the victim received a four-inch gash on her back, according to police reports.
The frightened young lady then screamed and fled the scene.
"She gave a positive identification of the young man arrested by Guttenberg police as the man who assaulted her," said North Bergen Police Lt. Frank Cannella. "We put his picture in a photo lineup and she positively identified him."
Because of that identification, North Bergen police are preparing the paperwork to charge the same teenager with the attempted assault in North Bergen.
Released to his mother
After the teenager was arrested and processed Monday, he appeared in front of Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mark Nelson in juvenile court Tuesday.
Because the arrested youngster is under age, his identity cannot be revealed at this time.
When the teenager appeared in court, he was released by Nelson to the custody of his mother.
"Although the teenager is only 14, he appeared to be much older," DeFazio said.
Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Samantha Maloney argued that the assailant provided a threat to society and should be remanded to the Hudson County Youth House facility and detained while awaiting trial. Nelson disagreed.
"We did note that there was an ongoing investigation, that the actor might have been involved in other assaults," DeFazio said. "We told the judge that other charges could be upcoming. There's an investigation involving the Guttenberg police, the West New York police, and the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, who are all working cooperatively in the case. Over our objection, the judge decided to release the teenager to his mother."
Added DeFazio, "Since he's only 14, it made it a much more difficult proposition. We just have to see what develops in the investigation."
Right now, the teenager has only been officially charged with the physical assault of the college student in Guttenberg. Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or email@example.com