Hostage told police of danger — (The Westchester County Journal News)

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The Westchester County Journal News  (Westchester County, NY)

June 10, 2000

Author: Oliver W. Prichard, Brian Kohn; Staff


MAMARONECK VILLAGE – The woman taken hostage and alleged to have been raped by her ex-boyfriend inside a downtown lingerie shop told police hours before the attack that he was harassing her, police reports show.

It was the second time in two weeks the 49-year-old victim complained to police about William Milligan, a married man with a history of depression.

She never agreed to file criminal charges, and police said the harassment turned to violence early Thursday afternoon when Milligan, 56, entered the Mamaroneck Avenue store with a high-powered rifle. He’s accused of forcing the victim to have sex in a back lounge at the store, Mamaroneck village police Lt. Mary Matero said.

After a tense, half-hour standoff with police sharpshooters, Milligan surrendered without firing a shot and was charged with first-degree rape.

” Stuff like this always seems to escalate, ” Matero said. ” She was getting a little afraid (after the two complaints). But if she doesn’t want to press charges, we can’t do it on her behalf. ”

The victim first called police about Milligan’s harassment on May 25, records show.

She told officers he threatened her on her cell phone.

” He threatened to bring a gun when he went to see her, ” Matero said. ” He was despondent at the time. ”

In response, officers were on alert for Milligan’s green Toyota pickup truck near the victim’s Mamaroneck Avenue lingerie shop, Matero said.

Women who are stalked by their ex-boyfriends often are reluctant to file charges out of fear, said Charlotte Watson, executive director of the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

” If he is released on bail and back on the street, he’s going to know where she lives and where she works, ” Watson said. ” She may feel that pressing charges will escalate his behavior, and she will be at greater risk. ”

The second call came at 10:55 a.m. Thursday. The victim called village police and told them that Milligan was waiting outside her New Rochelle home when she left for work, and that he followed her to the lingerie shop, documents show.

He wouldn’t leave the store until he returned a piece of jewelry to her, she told police officers who interviewed her shortly after Milligan left.

” Usually, this stuff just blows over, ” Matero said. ” This was all about him bothering her. It didn’t appear to be serious. She just wanted to make sure everything was documented. ”

Milligan apparently never left the area, returning about noon with a .30-30-caliber hunting rifle and setting in motion the events that led to his arrest.

At his arraignment Thursday night, a handcuffed Milligan asked for his eyeglasses before signing an order of protection for the victim.

” I don’t see who I’m supposed to stay away from, ” he told Mamaroneck Village Justice Roger Sirlin.

Milligan, who police said had threatened suicide before Thursday’s attack, told Sirlin he takes the anti-depressant Prozac.

The self-employed Ulster County contractor was being held without bail in Westchester County Jail in Valhalla, where he is on suicide watch.

Milligan’s wife, Virginia, answered the phone at the couple’s Gardiner home yesterday. She said she had not spoken to her husband since the arrest and declined to comment on the charges.

A woman who answered the phone at the victim’s home yesterday said the victim was ” doing OK right now. ” She declined to comment further.

The victim’s store, Sheer Perfection Lingerie, was closed yesterday, as was the neighboring mattress store where police and paramedics attended to her after Milligan let her go.

” I just think people are just shocked that it happened here, ” said Tim Goetze, who works across the street at Village Paint Supply. ” When I saw the cops with the guns pulled out, I was in shock. You don’t normally see that around Mamaroneck. ”

Otherwise, one of Westchester’s busiest business districts was back to normal, just a day after police shut down streets and sharpshooters lined nearby rooftops.

” It’s not something I’m worried about, ” said Harvey Singer, who works at Waldenbooks, down the street from Sheer Perfection. ” If it’s a robber, my concern as a retailer is whether we’re going to get knocked off next. But it was a domestic thing. ”

Staff writer Shawn Cohen contributed information for this report.  Record Number:  wst9941920025120