Teen attacked at Skid Row party
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 02:02
A 17-year-old girl was hospitalized after being raped and thrown from a second-floor window of an Academy Street residence last month, according to police.
Newark Police said 20-year-old John Nelson, of Wilmington, allegedly strangled and sexually assaulted a girl before throwing her from the window of the residence, located across the street from the Aetna House Hook & Ladder Company fire station in the collection of houses known colloquially as Skid Row, on Jan. 29.
Police said officers responding to reports of a fight arrived in the area at approximately 1 a.m. and began clearing a large party. They heard screams for help toward the rear of Skid Row and found the victim lying on the ground beneath the second-floor window, surrounded by several people.
According to court documents obtained by The Review, the victim told emergency medical technicians that she was sexually assaulted by Nelson, whom she identified by name.
The victim, a Delaware high school student, was brought to Christiana Hospital, where she underwent surgery to treat a broken arm and punctured lung, injuries sustained from the fall.
The victim told an officer she had been alone in a locked, second-floor bedroom in the building when Nelson, an acquaintance of hers, forced the door open, police said. The victim attempted to escape, but Nelson grabbed her by the throat and began strangling her until she became unconscious. Police said Nelson then sexually assaulted the victim and threw her from the bedroom window.
The victim identified Nelson, who was arrested for attempted murder and rape after police found him at his home on Sunday. He is currently committed at Howard R. Young Correctional Institution on $286,000 bail.
According to court documents, following the arrest Nelson told police during an interview that he did have an altercation with the victim and admitted to forcing his way into the room.
He told officers he was alone in the room with the victim when she fell out of the second story window but denied pushing her out of it and denied raping her.
Newark police spokesman Lt. Mark Farrall said violent crimes are known to occur in the city, though the circumstances of the alleged incident were atypical.
"The unusual part is that the individual was thrown out of a window, which is not a usual occurrence," Farrall said.
Some Skid Row residents, such as senior Jordan Luft, said the incident is unsettling because it occurred so close to their homes.
Though he was not at his residence when the crime allegedly occurred, Luft said he heard about the incident from friends, one of whom was among those who tended to the victim.
He said large, rowdy parties are not uncommon at Skid Row, but never expected to hear about a serious crime being committed during one.
"It's really upsetting knowing that something like that can happen," Luft said.
Britta Peterson, 25, who resides fewer than three houses from where the crime occurred at Skid Row, said she was in her house during the timeframe when police say the incident occurred, but wasn't aware of details about the situation until days later.
Peterson said the incident changed her opinion of the level of safety in the downtown area.
"I know a lot more incidents have been happening in Newark lately, but honestly, I've never felt personally unsafe because it's so far removed from where I live," Peterson said. "But knowing what happened, and it being on the row where I live, it definitely does."
Peterson's boyfriend, Alex Homan, 22, whom she lives with, said many of the people who attend parties, such as the one where the crime allegedly occurred, are often high school students.
Homan, who went to high school in Delaware, said he recalled that house parties in Newark often attracted minors because there was an opportunity to participate in social gatherings held at a college setting.
"Looking out the window, it does look like a lot of young kids—a lot of young faces out there," Homan said.
Anyone with additional information about the incident should contact police Detective Nicholas Sansone at (302) 366-7110, ext. 135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips can be sent by texting 302NPD and the message to TIP411.