A registered Level 3 sex offender living in a shelter at the Holiday Inn Express near Flushing Meadows Corona Park was arraigned last week on multiple charges for allegedly assaulting women in two separate elevator attacks in Forest Hills earlier this month.
Ralph Toro, 62, was arrested at the shelter, located at 113-10 Horace Harding Expy., after employees viewed still photographs taken from the surveillance video and identified him to detectives, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Toro was arraigned Thursday, Dec. 23, before Queens Criminal Court Judge David Kirshner on two separate complaints charging him with two counts of attempted robbery, sexual abuse, criminal possession of a weapon, menacing and harassment.
Katz said in the first incident just after 11 am on Dec. 17, a 28-year-old woman observed Toro standing inside an elevator in an apartment building on 75th Street. As the elevator door opened, the defendant exited, but immediately turned around and allegedly pulled out a knife. Toro then began to extend his hand back and forth in a threatening manner acting as if he was going to strike the woman and then reached into her jacket pockets. The victim pushed Toro away and fled the scene.
In the second attack, Katz said that, between noon and 12:45 p.m. later that day, a 51-year-old woman entered an elevator inside of an apartment building on 108th Street and was followed by a bald man wearing a multicolored camouflage face mask which covered his nose, mouth and neck. The defendant allegedly pulled out a knife and demanded that the victim give him money and blocked the doorway.
The woman informed him that she had no cash and emptied the contents of her pocketbook onto the elevator floor. The defendant, while still displaying the knife, grabbed the waistband of the victim, put his hand down her pants and sexually abused her, according to Katz. The victim tried to fight off the defendant and was able to shove him out of the elevator car. Toro then fled the location.
The second incident was caught on video surveillance and police from the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills were able to locate additional surveillance footage from various sources to track the defendant to the shelter located less than a half-mile away on the other side of the Long Island Expressway.
“The defendant is accused of committing two separate, terrifying elevator attacks inside two different Forest Hills apartment buildings on the same day,” Katz said. “Among other counts, I am charging him with attempted robbery and sexual abuse. Victims need to know that we will hold defendants accountable for these types of crime.”
Judge Kirschner ordered Toro to return to court on Dec. 28. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years to life in prison.