2 face charges in sexual assault of woman on N.J. recreation trail, officials say

Authorities on Friday said an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy have been charged in the sexual assault and robbery of a woman on a Morris County recreation trail earlier this week.

The adult, identified as Lizandro Osorio-Mejia, faces charges including aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated assault and weapons offenses, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

Osorio-Mejia’s alleged accomplice, whose name was not released because of his age, faces charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and theft, the prosecutor’s office said.

The duo are accused in the Tuesday afternoon attack on the Traction Line Recreation Trail in Morristown that involved one of them asking a woman for money, according to authorities.

“When the female victim did not provide money, one of the males pushed the victim to the ground and sexually assaulted her while the other male stood nearby. It is alleged that that male who pushed the victim to the ground was armed with a rock at the time he sexually assaulted her,” an account from the prosecutor’s office said.

The woman did not know her attackers, officials said. After the crime, investigators released surveillance images along with a sketch and urged the public to help identify the assailants. It was unclear if tips from the public led to the arrests, but authorities noted the arrests came following publicity around the case.

“Thank you to all our law enforcement partners at the state, county and local levels, without whom such a through and swift investigation and arrests would not have been possible,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said in a statement. “I also thank the public and our local/regional media for their vigilance and helping to get the word out.

“It is this due diligence and communication that enables law enforcement to most effectively protect the public.”

The prosecutor’s office worked with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morristown police and New Jersey State Police in the investigation.

“The victim and the public deserve nothing less,” said Sheriff James Gannon. “After such a heinous crime, and especially when an imminent and public threat continues to be present, it is crucial to deliver a concerted and prompt response.

“This was done both to identify and apprehend the offenders, as well as to protect the people of Morris County until the danger is finally mitigated.”

The Traction Line Recreation Trail is a 2.7-mile paved path that runs along New Jersey Transit train tracks.

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Noah Cohen may be reached at [email protected].