BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MAGGIE HAYES
Police are looking for a suspect who reportedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Library in the middle of the day.
“There are a lot of little children that are in [the library] by themselves,” said a 14-year-old who lives nearby. “You have nobody watching you. Instead you have people like this walking in, doing things and walking out.”
The suspect, described as a Hispanic man in his early to mid-20s, molested the girl around 4 p.m. on Monday, October 15. Police describe the man as 5’10” and 200 pounds, of light complexion with slick black hair pulled back in a bun.
“In this neighborhood, the library is like a babysitter,” said Patricia S., who lives just up the block from the branch on
Jewel Avenue and also frequents the library. “[Kids] run around through the aisles, no one is looking out for them.”
Police could not release any other details at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.
There are several registered sex offenders living within the vicinity of the library, according to the advocacy website Familywatchdog.us.
The teen noted that she has seen younger children get dropped off at the Pomonok branch by their parents or wait there after school to be picked up.
Joanne King, communications director for Queens Libraries, said the system always tries to ensure that everyone who frequents any branch feels safe and in a good environment.
“Queens Libraries are secure, family-friendly environments for education and enrichment,” she said. “The safety of our patrons and staff is always our number one priority.”
While sex offenders are banned from entering playgrounds, courts have ruled it unconstitutional to ban them completely from public libraries.
Just this summer, a man with a history of sexual-related run-ins with the law was arrested for inappropriately touching two young girls outside of the Flushing Library.
Councilmember Peter Vallone and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as a result wrote letters to state legislators calling for registered sex offenders to at least be banned from the children’s reading rooms of libraries.
Following the Pomonok assault, de Blasio released a statement calling again for tighter laws against known sex offenders in children’s sections of libraries.
“Today in New York City, a sexual predator could walk into a children’s room at any library, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” he said. “We need a tougher law that bans convicted offenders from children’s rooms to deter would-be attackers and empower law enforcement to quickly intervene. We intend to work closely with the State Legislature to protect children in our libraries.”