BREAKING: Suspected Attacker of J-School Student Identified

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The NYPD has released information about the man accused of raping and torturing a Journalism School student in Hamilton Heights last week.  The man, William Roberts, has a criminal record and apparently frequents homeless shelters in the area.  Read WABC’s coverage here.

UPDATE: Public Safety has put up a notice here, and is looking for tips.



  1. procedure  

    "BREAKING: J-School Student's Attacker Identified"

    So much for being innocent until proven guilty.

    Bwog, you're just as bad as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, those f*****s who should currently be apologizing to the Duke boys.

  2. sad  

    ok, this really pisses me off. he's a known criminal, murderer even, and yet he's still out there. it makes me sick to my stomach how little time people actually spend in jail for their crimes. i mean, if it had happened to me, it was a totally senseless crime to begin with, but with a known record including murder he should not have been on the streets when this happened. if our criminal justice system actually worked, this horrific crime could have been prevented. just something that really troubles me and that i feel strongly about.

  3. seth  

    how the hell did he murder someone in 1993 and have a chance to murder someone again 1996, don't we put people in jail for murder? what the fuck, how was this guy not in jail last week?

    answers, please!

    • probably  

      ...he wasnt convicted. the article only says he was charged.

      look, obviously it would have been good if this dude was in jail. but dont get carried away with viewing it as systemic - generally we put people in jail for ridiculously long times. the rockefeller laws are only part of it.

      • not true?  

        actually i don't think that's true with parole and all. people don't spend nearly as much time in jail as they are initially sentenced, because of a lack of resources, a lack of staff, beds, etc. i think you'd be surprised how quickly people end up back on the street. murder someone, which i think all of us can agree is a crime that should hold the highest penalty, and you could be out in a mere 5 or 7 years!

  4. the  

    American judicial system still keeps too many people in jail unfairly, and for unfairly long periods of time. still, this case is ridiculous.

  5. ok so  

    so you're right: our judicial system does keep too many people in jail unfairly, because anyone who is in jail unfairly should be there, and i have no doubt that at least one person meets this qualification, therefore, you are correct. ditto for your second clause. HOWEVER, the tone of your comment seems to imply that this is more often than not the case. Um, have you seen the statistics on repeat offenders? This is a CRIMINAL JUSTICE system that needs reform, and reforms that will prevent cases such as these from occurring in the shockingly high numbers that they do

  6. I hope they're right  

    # In 2006, he was charged with an assault in the 13th Precinct in Chelsea and with fare jumping in the subway.
    # In 1996, he was charged with attempted murder after shooting a man in the back.
    # In 1993, he was charged with murder. The disposition of that case was not known.

    This fucker should have been in jail in the first place. Here's hoping they find him.

  7. read this  

    From the Spec:

    The director also sent a detailed e-mail advisory to Barnard students describing how to avoid a "push-in" attack like the one the 23-year-old graduate student faced. In a "push-in" the perpetrator follows a woman into the elevator of her apartment building and then pushes her into her apartment and shuts the door behind them both, trapping the woman inside.
    "Usually when there's a push-in crime it's a fairly heinous crime, and it's so important to know how to prevent those crimes and particularly to listen to your instincts. ...You have them for a reason," Plackenmeyer said."

    ummm can we get that e-mail at Columbia?

    • Word  

      Can a Barnard Bwogger share the full text of that 'detailed e-mail advisory'? I'd love to know how to avoid a "push-in" attack.

    • This has

      already been commented on heavily in the last few bwog post comment sections. However...I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      I guess maybe Columbia girls don't matter? Or maybe it's just Columbia students that don't matter to Columbia; now there's a novel idea...

  8. Bwog  

    The title has been changed to reflect the fact that the suspect has not, in fact, been convicted.

  9. wow!  

    good job cu security on flyering the hell out of campus (or at least the llc/john jay) with that creep's wanted poster. i can't wait til they catch him and nypd can do what it does best (think diallo, sean bell, abner louima, etc...sure they're normally bad things but for this guy, go right ahead)

  10. Good god.  

    I wouldn't expect this bigotry from supposedly high-educated young adults. If you've done any study of the prison industrial complex, the problem is most certainly not that not enough people are being incarcerated. Incarceration levels are their hisitorical peak in america as well as at a global forefront. Moreover, have we no values for rights and liberty which supposedly depend on a right to due process? Surely the assailant should recieve some punishment–I do not know the particulars of the evidence against him, but regardless our entire theoretical legal, judicial, and social ethics system hinges on systematic law. Allowing emotions to interfere with our systems of rights has historically led to some of the most bigoted, prejudiced, and authritarian meaures in american history (see alien & seiditon acts, huac, military commisions act, etc). Furthermore, the point of the judicial system is to determine whether someone is guility of the accusation or not, and then assign an apposite sentence– it is not to stigmatize the person for the rest of their life. The purpose of prisons is not to identify social maladroits, it is to rehabilitate. By undertaking such discrimnation against those who have had dealings with the prison system is to essentially eproduce the cycle of violence and poverty which plagues impoverished communities. This man was not even convicted of the things you are bringing up! So please, before we demand the immediate execution of the first guy who meets the description, lets consider our social beliefs and values and decide whether or not we want to act on our theoretical convictions or our enflamed emotions.

    • hmm  

      Bet if he raped and tortured you for 19 hours, you'd have a few inflamed emotions.
      They ID'd the guy based on the victim identifying the picture and DNA evidence. Yeah, he deserves due process, but let's not make it seem like they plucked the first black guy in Harlem that they saw.

    • Uhhhh  

      Maybe you didn't get the memo: black rape suspects aren't entitled to due process. Only white rape suspects are afforded that right. Get with the program.

      • yeah  

        If you call being lynched in the media, kicked out of school and branded rapists by an ethnocratic faculty even before you're brought to trial, I would agree with you -- the due process afforded to those white boys at Duke is a luxury they should never forget.

        In terms of the Columbia rape suspect, well, I guess if you really want to indulge in victomological masturbation, you can either write the Spectator right now defending this dirtbag or just wait until Law & Order dramatizes the incident in which case, if you're white and male, you may even get to audition for the role of the rapist yourself.

    • rehabilitation  

      rehabilitation is certainly not the only reason we punish people. whatever happened to retribution and deterrence? And I don't think anyone is arguing that incarceration levels are not high, but it is precisely because they are so high that prisons are overcrowded and the system is incentivized to reduce sentences through parole, etc.

  11. don't disagree, but  

    "The purpose of prisons is not to identify social maladroits, it is to rehabilitate."

    This claim is arguable at best.

  12. Get real  

    People: Please please slow down and really read what's out there before posting more rants about this.


    1) The suspect is still at large. He has not been apprehended, not been charged and not been convicted.

    2) That's WHY the alert was sent out.

    3) AND no one is saying NYPD has matched the suspect's DNA to the crime, just that the suspect seemingly tried to remove his DNA from the victim.

    4) This is NOT a positive ID. It's notice of a suspect.

  13. everyone is...  

    missing the point here. He will be given a fair trial. But right now...since he is considered a dangerous suspect, the number one priority is to get him off the street. it doesn't matter if he's black, or white, or asian, or indian. the point is that he is a suspect in a pretty horrible crime, and in the interest of the safety of society AT THIS MOMENT he needs to be removed from the streets. he will still get his day in court and then he will have the chance to prove whether he is or is not innocent.

  14. lfw  

    just discovered this blog,
    if this does make it to L+O I will cry.

    regarding posters of the images,

    we (those in her class)were urged by the police not to overdue putting up posters only a sketch was availble . sometimes it can drive a suspect away and make it harder to find, plus it can further add to stigma to the victim (depending on lots of factors..there is no perfect science). the first part of that changes apparently when an actual supect is identified. I reserve all comment on punishment, but many who had views prior to to this incident have re-examined those views.

  15. a thought  

    If William Roberts is innocent, there is an easy way for him to exonerate himself: turning himself in and cooperating with the police.

  16. barnardian  

    here is a link containing the same text as that of the advisory email sent to barnard students on how to avoid assault/ "push-in" attacks. it also has the sketch artist's depiction of the suspect.

  17. lol  

    actually that wouldnt be statistically smart of williams. numerous studies have thoroughly proved higher conviciton rate and sentencing african-american suspects with comparable evidence in the first place, and identical convictions in the second (the first is an admittedly contreversial analysis in the academic field). but then again, you guys are probably right, statistics stachmistics– institutional racism was eliminated by the civil rights movement!

    • DHI  

      Yeah, given the evidence against Roberts, combined with the highly emotional nature of the case and the average jury bias, there's no way he wants to take his chances in court whether or not he's actually guilty.
      Of course if it is him, which seems likely, they should get the bastard.

  18. Innocents run too!  

    Now don't be presumptive; the Juice ran, and he was NOT guilty (according to criminal court).

    • DHI  

      The Juice ran very well, but I would say there are four backs better than him: Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Emmitt Smith. You can't argue against Brown, and Barry was much more elusive than O.J. ever was, while Payton and Smith were all around backs who could block and get the tough yardage besides just run for flashy yardage.

      Before any haters attack Smith, look at some clips of Super Bowl XXVIII, or the game against the Giants he played that year with a dislocated shoulder, and then ask yourself if you'd give him up for O.J.

      There's also an argument to be made for Gale Sayers, but I think we'll never know on that one.

  19. wow  

    I hope that was intended irony....please tell me it was.....

  20. The purpose  

    of prisons is not rehabilitation, it's punishment. Maybe not in the absolute sense, but if you compare the relative amount of punishment a prisoner receives as a result of his perpetual state during incarceration, it is far greater than the amount of actual rehabilitative "therapy" he receives. Personally, I don't think people can be rehabilitated at all, and that the punishments are not nearly severe enough. I don't get cable in a college that charges 40K a year for my presence, but serial murderers get to watch ESPN? Don't even think of responding with your list of exemplary rehabilitated cases -- I only need to link you to an unbearably long list of repeat offenders to refute the claim. Considering that our prison system is, at best 80% punishment/20% rehab, the punishment ought to serve as a deterrent, and hence ought to be much, much more severe. Rapists and murderers who are convicted ought to receive automatic life sentences without parole -- not as a deterrent (nothing will deter a rapist from eventually achieving his goal), but as a treatment for society's cancer. Now, if you disagree with that last point, consider how willing you would be to live next to a convicted felon. You think you could handle that? How about letting your daughter walk to school every day past the house of a "rehabilitated" rapist?

  21. yeah so  

    the posters said that Roberts was the "suspect responsible" for the assault. due process my ass.

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