Police have identified a suspect in the alleged sexual assault of a transgender woman at New York City's Stonewall Inn.
The alleged attack took place in the historic bar's single-person, unisex restroom around 11:40 p.m. on March 26, CBS reported. The victim, 25, said a man entered the restroom behind her, saying he needed to wash his hands.
The assailant proceeded to grope the woman and then sodomized her, police told The New York Times.
Described as a Hispanic male in his 30s or 40s, the suspect is believed to have fled the bar immediately following the incident. The victim also left the premises, but returned an hour later before calling 911 and being taken to New York's Lenox Hill Hospital for treatment, Gothamist reported.
Police officers released surveillance images of the suspect, which the Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL, posted to Twitter.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the alleged incident on Monday, pointing to the Stonewall Inn's historical status as the birthplace of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movement.
"To see a violent incident like this is very, very troubling," de Blasio said, according to CBS. “But I have confidence based on the information the chief just indicated that we will apprehend this individual.”
Stacy Lentz, Stonewall's co-owner, told Gothamist in a statement that she and her staff were "deeply saddened" by the assault allegations. She continued:
That violence like this has allegedly happened even in a safe space like Stonewall Inn is upsetting and we are working closely with the police to investigate this alleged isolated incident at Stonewall, as we continue to work with the greater LGBTQ community to increase visibility, safety and acceptance for all transgender people and all members of our community.
Robert K. Boyce, the New York Police Department’s chief of detectives, told The New York Times that the suspect was a known Stonewall Inn patron, and that authorities were hoping to make an arrest within a few days.
The news comes as a critical time in the national debate over transgender restroom use. On March 23, North Carolina passed House Bill 2 (HB2), which blocks cities from allowing trans people to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. (Sadly, other states are also considering similar measures)
Hopefully, those that fear transgender men and women using the restroom that best corresponds with their gender identity will see this alleged incident as an unfortunate reality check.