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A Night of Wilding, One Year Later

April 19, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ She was out running. They were out ″wilding.″ One year ago Thursday, their paths crossed on a Central Park jogging trail where the woman was gang raped, beaten and left for dead.

Today, the woman is back at her Wall Street job after an astounding recovery. She has been promoted to a vice president at Salomon Brothers Inc., said Lisa Borowitz, a spokeswoman for the investment firm.

Six youths are awaiting trial in the attack; two have spent most of the last year in jail. And Central Park, authorities say, is now a safer place.

″This crime has helped us in bringing down crime. It gave the impression that if you commit a crime in the park, you’re going to get taken over the coals,″ said Capt. Thomas Matthews, commander of the park police precinct.

Statistics bear him out. Robbery in the park is down 50 percent this year compared to 1989, when it was down 22 percent. Joggers are back running on the once-empty 102nd Street transverse, where the brutal assault occurred.

The site became an impromptu shrine in the days following the attack, with passersby leaving cards, flowers and notes. The lone reminder Thursday of what happened a year ago was a plaque put up by a runners’ organization: ″April 19, 1990. As a remembrance, let’s run together.″

According to police, the woman was running alone through the park when she encountered the roving gang of teen-agers at about 10 p.m., the time she always took her nightly jog. Before they ran into her, the youths allegedly had beaten another jogger and a homeless man during a violent tear through the park.

The woman was smashed with a rock and dragged into a wooded area off the path, where she was raped and battered again, authorities said. Her crumpled body was not found for hours; her body temperature had plunged, she nearly bled to death and she arrived at the hospital in a coma.

The brutality and randomness of the attack stunned New Yorkers all too familiar with violence. While doctors initially were pessimistic about her recovery, she bounced back at an astounding pace.

After emerging from the coma, she transferred to a Connecticut hospital to continue her rehabilitation. She returned to her job with Salomon Brothers in November. Two months later, she was promoted to vice president.

Her story served as an inspiration to many, including Fred Lebow, president of the New York Road Runners Club, which sponsors the New York Marathon.

″If she can overcome, I can overcome,″ said Lebow, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

The woman, now 29, is back jogging again, and may testify at the trial. Police arrested a half-dozen youths in the case, and the suspects said they were out for a night of ″wilding″ - their term for roaming violence.

Because of statements to police that incriminate each other, the defendants were divided into two groups that will be tried separately.

The first trial was supposed to begin two weeks ago, but was delayed when prosecutors discovered a potentially vital piece of evidence had been overlooked. A semen-stained sock found at the crime scene is now being analyzed in an effort to link it to one of the defendants.

Two of the six suspects remain jailed while awaiting trial because they could not make bail: Raymond Santana, 15, and Kharey Wise, 17.

The four other suspects - Kevin Richardson, 15, Steven Lopez, 16, Antron McCray, 16, and Yusef Salaam, 16 - are free on bail. Salaam, Santana and McCray are the defendants in the first trial.

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