NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Millions of tourists visit our region every year to take in the beauty of Niagara Falls. But while one tourist was trying to do that back in December she was robbed and sexually assaulted. Now officials are trying to bring her justice.
“If criminals think that tourists are easy targets because we won’t prosecute them my message to those criminals is think again,” said Robert Zucco, Niagara County Assistant District Attorney.
A Japanese woman named Koyuki Nakahara was visiting Niagara Falls on Christmas day, when she was robbed and sexually assaulted in Niagara Falls State Park. Nakahara left her Niagara Falls hotel room that night to walk over the Rainbow Bridge to view the Falls from the Canadian side. That’s when she asked a stranger for directions and the attack happened.
Some tourists say the incident is concerning.
“It does make me sort of think that I need to watch and be aware and take the kinds of precautions that you would in a big city I guess which when you’re in a park like setting you don’t necessarily think that way,” said tourist Ann Gualtieri.
“It makes me feel like I need to be watchful but it doesn’t really make me feel unsafe,” said tourist Maxine Minckler.
A few days after the attack police arrested 44-year-old Robert Macleoud. State Police tracked him down with surveillance video and charged him with robbery and assault. Macleoud was offered a plea deal but he turned it down.
Last week the Niagara County DA’s office flew in Nakahara to testify in pre-trial proceedings.
“Whether the victim of a crime lives in this area, in the next county, in the next state, or another country we are committed to provide them with justice in Niagara County,” said Robert Zucco, Niagara County Assistant District Attorney.
Nakahara is now back in Japan but has said she would come back if the case goes to trial.
At press conference today officials said there is no special rise in tourist violence. Up to 9 million people come through Niagara Falls State Park every year, and State Parks Police say there’s only a handful of serious crimes each year.