'This should not have happened to me.”- 20 years since mob attack on women in Central Park

June marks 20 years since dozens of women were viciously attacked by a mob of men in Central Park after the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

News 12 Staff

Jun 25, 2020, 8:28 PM

Updated 1,425 days ago

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June marks 20 years since dozens of women were viciously attacked by a mob of men in Central Park after the Puerto Rican Day Parade. 
The assaults, largely captured on video, resulted in groundbreaking legislation that changed the way sexual crimes are prosecuted. 
Anne Peyton Bryant says her life was forever changed 20 years ago. "I was thrown down on my back and attacked by 18 men,” says Bryant. 
Bryant says she went for a skate through Central Park, but that she wound up becoming one of more than 50 women sexually assaulted in broad daylight. 
"I do feel myself getting a little knot in my throat, so I apologize for that, but it's very hard for me to talk about because till this day I still feel very strongly that that should not have happened to me, and something went terribly wrong,” says Bryant. 
Crowds of men gathered in Central Park following the national Puerto Rican Day Parade and set the stage for chaos captured on camera. 
Women were splashed with water, their clothes were torn off, and they were abused as men cheered each other on. 
Bryant says 18 of those men were criminally prosecuted for her attack, but she says to this day she blames the NYPD for its handling of the situation. 
WATCH: Extended Coverage: 20 years since mob attack on women in Central Park
 
She says she recalls a conversation with a police officer when she went to file a report. 
"He actually said what you are describing is a sexual assault, I think you need to calm down and come back tomorrow,” says Bryant. 
"You could never tell a woman, go home take a deep breath and just forget about it,” says personal injury attorney Susan Karten. 
Karten represented Bryant in her civil lawsuit against the city, which accused officers of standing by as lawlessness ensued. 
"Our argument was that they had a duty to stop these rampages going on all through the park,” says Karten. 
Karten says their case was settled as she was calling her first witness to the stand.
"I felt it was a very important case for women and for people of this city to be protected in any parades going forward,” says Karten. 
Bryant, who testified in both a criminal trial and police disciplinary hearing, decided to go to law school after her attack. 
"I just found myself very compelled to help other women. I feel pretty strongly that no one would have believed me or any of the other women about what happened that day, had it not been caught on video. The videographers did me a favor by capturing it, so the law could change and this could never happen to anybody ever again,” says Bryant. 
News 12 requested an interview with the NYPD to talk about the policing of parades since this case and to also talk about their Special Victims Unit and how it deals with sexual crimes today, but the NYPD declined the request.


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