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Teen charged with hate crime after allegedly trying to light woman’s clothing on fire in midtown

MIDTOWN, Manhattan – A 14-year-old boy has been charged with a hate crime after attempting to light a woman's clothing on fire on 42nd Street in midtown police say.

The teen, whose name has not been released, is charged with two counts of attempted assault, two counts of aggravated harassment and harassment -- all of which are hate crimes.

Police say the teen was involved in an incident that happened last Saturday around 10 p.m. as two women were walking down the stairs to catch a train at the 42nd Street-Bryant Park subway station. Police say the teen put a flame near their arms. They were not hurt.

Police say the incident appears to fit a pattern involving similar incidents on the same day and in the same area.

An incident happened about 8:45 p.m. Saturday when a group of five – two females, three males – approached a woman in front of 727 Fifth Ave., police said. One of the men crept up behind the woman and allegedly tried to ignite a lighter next to her leg, police said.

The target, who was not hurt, continued to walk down Fifth Avenue and the group headed the other way.

Just a short time later, a woman wearing traditional Muslim garb was attacked shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday outside Valentino, on Fifth Avenue. She’d been walking on the sidewalk when she felt something warm on her left arm. When she looked down, she saw her blouse was on fire, which she quickly patted out, police said.

During the incident outside Valentino, the woman told police she spotted a man standing next to her with a lighter in his hand. It's being investigated as a hate crime.

In the attack at the subway station, the victims said they saw a black male, about 6 feet tall with a thin build wearing a white t-shirt and holding a black backpack and a lighter. He was part of a group, police said.

That description fits for the attacker in the 8:45 p.m. incident, as well.

Anyone with information in the case is urged to call NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).