The NYPD says it has arrested a suspect after two women filed formal complaints saying that a man had groped them in Williamsburg in the past week. Police did not comment on the description of the suspect in custody, but they are urging any victims to come forward.
One alleged victim — who has not yet filed a complaint — says she was groped twice in less than a week. Andrea Larsen, 36, told ANIMAL that she was assaulted twice, once on Thursday of last week and one time on Monday of this week, by the same man. Both incidences took place in the morning, she said, between 7:30 and 8:30 AM. “He grabbed my butt,” she said, calling it a “full-on butt grab” as she was walking south on Humboldt, near Jackson Street. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I just started screaming. He kind of smirked at me and walked off.” She described the man as Hispanic, 5’8”, and in his teens or 20s, wearing a dark hoodie.
On Monday, Larsen says the man walked past her at Graham Avenue and Jackson Street, did a U-turn and walked back, and again groped her.
She plans to file a complaint with police on Friday.
Larsen and the other alleged victims (at least nine women are claiming to have been groped) discovered this was a community-wide issue after Larsen’s friend, Lesley Melincoff, posted a warning on a private Yahoo group, Brooklyn Baby Hui, for Brooklyn mothers. Immediately, according to Melincoff, “All of these women started sharing their stories, all within 2 blocks of each other and all within the same time period.”
Individually, “they didn’t think that it was a big enough issue,” Melincoff said, saying that the women were worried police wouldn’t take them seriously. “But once these women started hearing that others were hearing about, they started to file reports and collectively they wanted to see what they could make happen. Collectively, there is something really powerful about social media and communication,” she said.
One victim’s husband was able to take a photo of the man who groped his wife. Melincoff shared the blurry photo with the group. Larsen says that he looks like the same man who assaulted her.
Jennifer Gutierrez, Chief of Staff to New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, put Melincoff in touch with Captain James Ryan of the 94th Precinct, who is working on the case with the Special Victims Unit. Gutierrez urges anyone who has come into contact with the man to report it to police and to “absolutely” take photos and use social media to increase awareness. And if anyone is groped on the street, “They should immediately dial 911,” she says.
Update: As of 2:12 PM, the NYPD says of the suspect: “He is currently in custody. He has not been charged as of yet. We are asking for any other victims to come forward and file a formal complaint.”