A homeless high-level registered sex offender in New York City who was released from state prison as recently as 2020 was arrested again after prosecutors say he kidnapped a woman and raped her repeatedly while holding her hostage for five days in an abandoned building in the Bronx.
Timothy Harnett, a 44-year-old homeless man who goes by the moniker "Lawless," was indicted for allegedly kidnapping a 28-year-old woman and raping her several times a day between April 29 and May 2 in an abandoned three-story building, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced Monday.
"The defendant allegedly held a 28-year-old woman captive for days, raping and beating her with a tire iron. The victim managed to escape with the help of a passerby," Clark said in a statement. "The defendant has been indicted on multiple charges for terrorizing this woman."
Prosecutors said Harnett offered the woman money in exchange for sex and the two went upstairs in the building that had been damaged by a fire. But when the victim turned her back, the homeless man allegedly hit her in the leg with a tire iron, causing her to fall to the floor. Harnett allegedly continued to beat her with the tire iron and punched her, leaving her with a fractured wrist and dislocated knee.
The defendant allegedly took off the victim’s clothes, tied her feet with a cloth and handcuffed her wrists.
While holding the woman captive and allegedly raping her several times a day, Harnett is accused of also threatening the woman’s family if she tried to escape. But she did just that on May 2 when the man left the building to go to a nearby laundromat. Prosecutors say the woman used the tire iron to break a window and used the shards of glass to cut through the restraints on her feet.
The victim then waved down a passerby, who dialed 911 and flagged down a New York Police Department patrol car. The woman was taken to the hospital to be treated for her injuries.
N.Y. Daily News reported that a grand jury was convened Monday and police subsequently picked up Harnett in a different abandoned building in Harlem. According to the newspaper, Harnett preyed on the victim’s vulnerability, as the woman used money from prostitution to fuel her drug addiction.
The newspaper also revealed that Harnett is a level 3 registered sex offender, which is the highest level in New York state. He was previously convicted of sodomy by a Bronx jury and sentenced to 18 years in state prison after prosecutors said he threatened a 15-year-old girl with a razor on May 14, 1999, forcing her into a hotel and holding her captive for several hours while he sexually assaulted her.
Records show he was released from prison in December 2020 and finished parole in September 2021.
Harnett was indicted Monday on three counts of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, third-degree rape, four counts of first-degree criminal sexual act, four counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse, attempted sex trafficking, attempted sexual assault in the first degree, and second-degree assault before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Raymond Bruce. He was remanded into custody and is due back in court on Aug. 9.
Prosecutors said it is believed that the defendant may have had other victims, and anyone who may have been victimized or who may have information about a victim of Harnett is encouraged to call the Bronx District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit at 718-838-6535.
Anyone who is a victim of human trafficking is encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, or the Bronx DA’s Crime Victims Assistance Unit, (718) 590-2115.