Video: Man sexually assaults woman in church

updated 5/18/2007 8:58:23 PM ET 2007-05-19T00:58:23

A surveillance video of a woman in a church pew warding off an attacker with a pen led to the arrest of a 44-year-old man, police said Friday.

The unidentified 58-year-old woman was praying early Wednesday at the chapel of St. Joseph's Church when she fought off the attacker by stabbing him in the neck with a pen she was using to write in her journal.

The man ran off. The attack was recorded by the church's security cameras.

John Michael Petry was arrested Thursday evening after an off-duty firefighter spotted him riding a bike, recognized him from news coverage of the incident and called police, police Lt. Paul Rickard said.

The tip from the firefighter, Michael Benedetto, was one of many police received after the video was broadcast.

Petry faces felony charges of attempted rape and sex abuse and misdemeanor charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. He was in jail Friday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Petry is a former psychiatric patient who has been homeless off and on over the years and has an arrest record dating to 1981, police said.

Middletown is 59 miles north of New York City.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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