NEW YORK— A travel agent said Tuesday she was flattered when a debonair journalist approached her in Central Park but the flirtation took a violent turn six months later when he forced her to perform a sex act in the stairwell of her apartment building and then told her she liked it.
The woman said Ivory Coast native Hugues Akassy approached her in May 2007 and struck up a conversation.
“He mentioned that he was an international journalist,” she testified in Manhattan state Supreme Court, where he’s being tried for crimes including assault against five women.
Akassy, who’s in his early 40s, wooed the women by portraying himself falsely as a French-language TV journalist, prosecutors say. He has pleaded not guilty.
The travel agent said she agreed to go to a bar with Akassy and “his hands started wandering around my chest, and he started to kiss me.” She said she rejected his advances and told him she was married.
But she met him several times over the next few months, joining him for a picnic once and taking him to five work-related seminars.
“I actually thought he was handsome, intriguing, debonair,” the woman said. “I was flattered.”
It was after the last of the seminars, in November 2007, that she invited Akassy to admire the view from the rooftop of her East Side apartment building, she said.
She said he started to make advances again and she told him, “I’m not interested.”
Back in the elevator, the woman said, Akassy pressed the button for her floor, though she had no intention of letting him into her ninth-floor apartment. But he forced her out of the elevator and into the nearby stairwell, she said.
The woman said Akassy pushed her onto her knees, lowered his pants and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
“It was over in a flash,” she said, adding that Akassy taunted her by saying, “See, I told you you like it. That wasn’t so bad, was it? You crazy American woman.”
Akassy’s attorney, Glenn Hardy, asked the woman why she didn’t scream, and she replied, “I was very afraid.”
The woman didn’t report an assault until 2010, when she saw a news account of another attack with which Akassy has been charged.
Accusations against Akassy include camping out on one woman’s fire escape, berating another woman on the street after she had her boyfriend ask him to leave her alone and forcing a third woman, a Russian tourist, to have sex with him after inviting her to picnic with him in a park.
His trial before Judge Jill Konviser started Thursday.