The rape of a 19-year-old woman late last week in an area bordering on the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard's research and botanical garden, has sparked new concern over the Arboretum's growing reputation as an unsafe area.
A woman was raped last Thursday night at a deserted spot outside the Arboretum, near the south entrance. The incident apparently took place after the woman and her attacker drove together to that spot, West Rosbury Police Lt George Kenny said yesterday.
The rape occurred three days after another woman, walking alone inside the Arboretum at midday, was stabbed.
"This crime is a coincidence in regards to the stabbing earlier in the week," Kenny said, adding. "It originated somewhere else." He added that police have begun an investigation into the rape case, but have not found any new leads not do they have any suspect in custody at the present time.
Kenny calls the rape, which was incorrectly reported Saturday by the Boston Globe as occurring inside the Arboretum, as an ordinary crime that drew more publicity because it took place so soon after the stabbing.
The rape victim, whom officials refused to identify, was taken by friends to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where she was treated for facial cuts and then released.
Alice Bodnar, a 28 year old Jamaica Plain resident, was stabbed repeatedly in the back Monday afternoon near the Walter and Bussey St gate of the 278 acre arboretum Bodnar, who is still unconscious, remains in fair condition in Faulkner Hospital, a hospital spokesman said yesterday.
The police found a bone-handled knife in the Arboretum last week which they believe was used in the stabbing. Since this discovery, the police have no new leads nor suspects, Kenny said.
"It is very unfortunate that the Arboretum is getting a bad name from incidents that are not directly related to it," said Arboretum Director Peter S. Ashton, In additions to the rape, he cited the recent murder of an Arboretum staffer in Cambridge as an incident which is contributing to the facility's bad reputation.
Because Harvard rents the Arboretum from Boston, the city is responsible for providing its security. In the wake of last week's stabbing. Ashton has stepped up negotiations with the city's park commissioner over the provision of rangers on horseback to petrol during the day. Boston officials refused to comment on the negotiations.
"The problem is, of course, money." Ashton said yesterday. While access to the Arboretum grounds is currently free to the public. Ashton has proposed installing collection boxes and requesting voluntary donations.
Ashton said he considers the Arboretum one of the safest places in the city "There are certainly more incidents in an urban area of comparable size," he said.
Describing the stabbing as the most serious incident in daylight during his three and a halt year tenure, Ashton added. "I have great confidence that [the Arboretum] is really a safe place. It has a ground crew of 12, no other city park has so many people in the maintenance staff."
Kenny said, "We are all certainly very concerned about security within the Arboretum during the day, and would welcome ranger patrols. 'He added that the police had no immediate plans to increase patrols along South St at night.
Ashton would not predict what effect the recent incidents will have or Arboretum attendance. "We don't get a lot of negative calls but there is always an undercurrent of rumor.