A gay man was attacked and robbed earlier this month in the Gayborhood, days before a woman was raped at almost the same location.
Nick Forte, 36, said he was walking near 12th and Saint James streets around 2 a.m. Nov. 10 when he was struck on the head from behind with what might have been a metal object.
He said he lost consciousness but believes he was pulled further onto Saint James and repeatedly punched and kicked. Forte, who was on his way to hail a cab after a night at ICandy, said he is unsure if he was attacked by one or two people.
He said he was unconscious near the intersection of Camac and Saint James streets until about 3:30 a.m., when a passerby leaving Voyeur found him. The woman, who was unknown to him, roused him and attempted to take him to a hospital, but was unable to find assistance or a willing cab driver and transported him to his parents’ house in her own car. Forte reported the incident the following day and the witness, who Forte later learned happened to be friends with one of his family members, also gave a statement to police.
The assailant(s) stole Forte’s cell phone, a gift card, passport and a diamond cross pendant from around his neck.
On Nov. 14, a 29-year-old woman was raped in the 1200 block of Saint James Street. In that case, the woman was approached from behind by a well-dressed African-American man. The suspect was wearing a cross pendant around his neck.
Detective Shoemaker of Central Detectives said investigators are looking into a possible connection between the two incidents, but have no firm link.
“At this time, there’s nothing to suggest that other than the cross he says was taken and the cross she says she saw. And that they happened in the same vicinity,” Shoemaker told PGN. “It could be related, or it couldn’t be.”
Forte, a former PGN employee, has little memory about the incident and its aftermath, but said the woman who found him told him he said his attacker or attackers attempted to rape him.
“She told me that she kept asking what happened and that I just kept saying, ‘They jumped me, they tried to rape me,’” Forte said.
During the incident, a ring Forte was wearing on his right hand was broken and he had scrapes along his right hand, which investigators suggested he may have sustained while coming in and out of consciousness and trying to fend off the attacker or attackers.
The ring is being processed for DNA evidence, but Shoemaker said it is likely the blood on the item belongs to Forte.
“It’s most likely his; he was found in a lot of blood,” the detective said. “It’s 99-percent his blood, but we still submitted it in case.”
Forte went to University of Pennsylvania Hospital the day after the incident and spent five days there.
Both of his eye sockets were broken, as was the tip of his browbone, both cheek bones, his nose, two teeth and one rib, and he also suffered scrapes and abrasions. He underwent surgery to repair the lower floor of his eye socket; a metal plate and screws were inserted to hold the eye in place.
“They did a real number on me,” Forte said.
Shoemaker said investigators are still in the process of reviewing surveillance video from surrounding businesses that may have captured this incident and the Nov. 14 rape.
He cautioned people walking in the city at night to stay aware of their surroundings.
“Be alert of who’s around you, who’s behind you,” Shoemaker said. “About 90 percent of the robberies I get start when somebody stops you to ask for the time or for a cigarette. Because of the beating [Forte] took, he doesn’t have a lot of memory of how it happened, but a lot of these robberies start like that.”
Forte said this was not the first time he was victimized in the Gayborhood; he said he and his sister were once held up in the area, and he was also attacked on 13th Street several years ago.
“There’s a lot of crime up there,” Forte said.