Mom of teen assaulted on Kearny Avenue Sunday morning speaks out

The approximate location of the weekend incident. Google Street View

A Kearny man is behind bars after he allegedly accosted two females — one a juvenile — Sunday morning, June 19, the Kearny Police Department said. And the mom of the teen victim is speaking out, hoping her daughter’s experience will help others to be aware and alert.

Capt. Timothy Wagner, the KPD’s public-information officer, offered this account of what reportedly happened that day:

On Sunday, June 19, at 8:03 a.m., a 30-year-old woman told Officer Harold Azurdia she was walking on the 200 block of Kearny Avenue when a man grabbed her and pushed her to the ground. The woman escaped from the man, who reportedly continued southbound on Kearny Avenue.

At 9:02 a.m., Officers Bryan San Martin, Nick Funk and Sgt. Angelo Palatino responded to the Kearny Avenue fire quarters, where two on-duty fire captains and a concerned citizen reported they investigated the sounds of a woman screaming for help and allegedly found a man “bear-hugging” a 17-year-old Kearny girl on the ground.

When firefighters and the Good Samaritan intervened, the man allegedly ran up Dukes Street — but returned to the scene when they pursued him. After further investigation by the police officers and Det. Jonathan Dowie, officers arrested the alleged assailant.

He was later identified as Jorge L. Rodriguez, 24, of Kearny, who was charged with criminal-attempt sexual assault in the second degree, endangering the welfare of a child in the third degree, criminal restraint in the third degree and simple assault, a disorderly-persons offense.

Although investigation revealed Rodriguez was the suspect of the earlier assault on the 200 block of Kearny Avenue, the victim in that case did not pursue charges.

Rodriguez was held in the Hudson County Jail, South Kearny.

Every mothers fear — my kid’s at the police station

The victim of the crime’s mother — we will not identify mom or the victim by name — reached out to The Observer Tuesday, June 21, to share how her daughter was doing in the aftermath of this attack. She says though her daughter is a very brave girl, as it gets further away from Sunday, it’s hitting her more and more what went down.

“She’s very strong, but it is not easy,” the mother, who says her daughter is getting trauma-related counseling, told The Observer. “I just got back from traveling Saturday and this happened the next day. Her father had just happened to go out to get coffee (that day) and thank goodness he picked up his phone when my daughter called him.”

When dad got that call, he heard news any parent would dread.

“She said she was at the police station but she was OK,” mom said. “She had some scratches on her knee. My heart froze and I thought I would just drop dead, because my head was spinning thinking, ‘Why is she at the police station?’ But I always taught her to be tough, to always fight back. If someone pushes you, you push them. And that is what she did to this guy — she fought him off until the people came to her.”

Mom says she’s forever indebted to the firefighters and the Good Samaritan who, without hesitation, helped her daughter as soon as they heard her scream for help.

“Amazing, because I bought her pepper spray but she never even had a chance to use it,” mom said. “She’s 17, a beautiful girl and said this guy gave her a ‘bear hug.’ I told her, ‘Sweetheart, that was no bear hug.’ I just hope something like this never happens to her or anyone, really, ever again — and I just hope this guy hasn’t done this to anyone else but the two he did it to that day.”

Police say at this point, it does not appear Rodriguez has any prior similar experiences on record, but if anyone has experienced anything similar to this, at Rodriguez’s hands or anyone else’s, for that matter, call the Kearny PD at (201) 998-1313.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.