- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2020

A Brooklyn man has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a woman just 10 days after being released from Rikers Island to halt the spread of the coronavirus. He was being held at the New York City prison on a separate rape charge and an unrelated parole violation.

Robert Pondexter, 57, was charged Saturday with attempted rape, sexual assault and related offenses, The New York Post reported, citing police sources.

A 58-year-old woman claimed that Pondexter was walking across the street from her apartment building Saturday morning when he grabbed her by the collar and pulled her into a parking lot, the Post reported.

The woman, who did not know Pondexter, told police he choked her and forced her to perform oral sex before demanding she remove her pants, but she kicked him away, according to the report.

Pondexter had been held at Rikers on a rape charge for allegedly attacking a different woman, the Post said, citing police sources. The charge was later dropped when the victim became uncooperative, the paper reported.

Pondexter was released April 15 as part of the effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus at Rikers Island. He is among 2,000 inmates New York City has released since the pandemic began in mid-March.

Across the country, alarm has been growing over the push by state and local officials to release inmates to protect them from exposure to the coronavirus while behind bars.

A handful of inmates have found themselves quickly back behind bars.

Joseph Edwards Williams, 26, of Tampa, was released March 19 from the Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa, where he was being held on minor drug charges. He is accused of murdering a man the day after his release.

In Utah, a man released early because of COVID-19 concerns last month was quickly rearrested. He is accused of breaking into a woman’s home, tying her up at knifepoint and threatening to kill her if she didn’t give him the PIN codes for her bank cards.

Others have raised questions about how they got out in the first place.

A Washington Times investigation revealed a homeless, HIV-positive convicted rapist was among those released in Cincinnati.

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