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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Community rallies around alleged rape victim, family

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Loida Rivera calls for justice for her mother and other people who cannot speak for themselves beside state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and attorney Sanford Rubenstein outside the Criminal Division of the Bronx Supreme Court on Thursday.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Nanic Aidasani, the nurse charged with raping a 64-year-old woman at Manhattanville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center last month, appears beside his lawyer, at right, at the Criminal Division of the Bronx Supreme Court on Thursday.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
State Sen. Ruben Díaz Sr. and other other clergy members were among a group of roughly 100 people who packed the court to show their support for the unnamed victim and her family members.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein walks with the victim's daughter, Loida Rivera, state Sen. Ruben Díaz Sr. and supporters as they exit court.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Supporters of the alleged rape victim and her family chant "Justicia queremos" ("We want justice") and other slogans.
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Updated at 4:58 p.m.

About 100 supporters of an elderly woman allegedly raped at the Manhattanville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center packed the Criminal Division of the Bronx Supreme Court on Thursday during a short appearance of the man accused of committing the crime while the woman lay helpless last month.

Judge Nicholas Iacovetta postponed Nanic Aidasani’s next appearance to May 22 to give the Bronx District Attorney’s office more time to present the results of a rape kit to a grand jury. Mr. Aidasani, 42, is expected to be indicted on charges including second-degree rape, a felony filed against someone believed to have raped a person incapable of giving consent.

Mr. Aidasani, who was released on $20,000 bail following his Feb. 18 arrest, showed no expression as he stood next to his attorney from Bronx Defender Services while the judge spent several minutes making his decision.

But following the procedural appearance, the alleged victim’s daughter gave an impassioned speech outside the courthouse at 265 E. 161st St. with her husband, state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., high-profile lawyer Sanford Rubenstein and dozens of sign-carrying supporters around her.

“I am here because she cannot speak, but I can,” Loida Rivera said of her mother, adding the unnamed victim has global aphasia and chronic dementia. “I am here to stand behind my mother and every individual who may be a victim of abuse. We are talking about a woman who was a 64-year-old who was not able to scream for help.”

Mr. Diaz, the ranking member on the Senate’s Committee on Aging, reiterated his previous call for the state Department of Health (DOH) to investigate the Manhattanville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center.

“I have no words to tell you the pain, the sorrow, what I felt when I heard a senior citizen is being sent to a nursing home to be taken care of… and to see that that nursing home and that administration have failed those senior citizens,” Mr. Diaz said.

However, the Manhattanville center's administrator Uri Scwartz said in a phone interview that the DOH "cleared the facility" after visiting it the week of the alleged rape. He also said the nursing home took the responsible course of action as soon as it learned of the incident.

"We did the right thing," Mr. Schwartz said. "We saw something. We didn't try to hide anything. We took immediate action."

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