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Man arrested in Central Park rape case

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:41 PM EDT, Thu September 13, 2012
The New York City Police Department released this photo Wednesday in Central Park rape case. A suspect was arrested on Thursday.
The New York City Police Department released this photo Wednesday in Central Park rape case. A suspect was arrested on Thursday.
  • NEW: The man arrested is identified as David Albert Mitchell
  • NEW: The heavily tattooed 42-year-old man has an extensive arrest record, police say
  • Woman, 73, was taken to an area hospital after passerby found her lying in the bushes

New York (CNN) -- Police said Thursday that they have arrested a homeless man in the daytime rape of a 73-year-old woman in New York's Central Park.

David Albert Mitchell was charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, criminal sex act and robbery assault, according to police Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.

He said detectives uncovered photographs of Mitchell on the victim's home computer, which she had apparently downloaded after photographing him more than a week ago in the park.

Browne said the woman told police that she had seen him masturbating in park and then photographed him

"It's the same guy she thinks she photographed nine days ago," added Browne, who said Mitchell has an extensive arrest record in Virginia and West Virginia.

The heavily tattooed 42-year-old man was charged with murder and sexual assault in 1989 but was acquitted the following year, he said.

In May 2003, Mitchell was convicted of abduction and kidnapping in Virginia and sentenced to eight years in prison

Police said the attack occurred Wednesday while the victim was bird watching in the vicinity of 74th Street and Central Park West, also known as Strawberry Fields.

The woman told police they exchanged words and he sexually assaulted her.

He also stole some items, authorities said. The woman was taken to a hospital after passerby Eric Ozawa found her lying in the bushes.

"I saw her face was badly beaten," Ozawa told CNN affiliate WABC. "She was swollen, her right eye was black, her forehead was swollen. ... She told me that she had been raped."

This is the first reported sexual assault in Central Park this year, according to police records. In 2011, two such attacks occurred.

"She was a victim of a terrible attack," Browne told WABC.

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CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report

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