Cops nab alleged groper in subway station attack

Victim: Cops downplayed attempted rape in Windsor Terrace
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Police say that they nabbed a man suspected of groping a woman in a Sunset Park subway station last week — the second such assault to rock the area since New Year’s Eve.

A transit cop cuffed the alleged molester on Jan. 11 at about 10:30 pm, shortly after he attacked a woman at the 36th Street station near Fourth Avenue, according to Capt. James Grant of the 72nd Precinct.

He said that the suspect was intoxicated and just as the victim turned to slap him, an officer jumped in to make the arrest.

“It was one of those perfect scenarios — the cop was at the top step,” said Grant, the precinct’s commanding officer. “We’re going to be out in full force just to let these people know we’re not going to tolerate these crimes.”

Grant said that the groping wasn’t related to the spree of attacks that terrorized a swath from Park Slope to Bay Ridge last year. Still, neighbors are frustrated that the sexual assaults have continued.

“It’s disturbing that this is becoming the status quo,” said Aaron Brashear, co-founder of the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights and sergeant at arms of Community Board 7. “Whether this is a sex predator or someone being drunk and stupid, it just continues to go on.”

In the last incident, a creep fondled a woman on Fourth Avenue on Dec. 31 right in front of her boyfriend — leaving some neighbors to wonder if the so-called South Slope Sex Fiend has returned.

In that case, the 23-year-old victim told police that she was nearing 19th Street at 1:30 am when a stranger — described as a 25-year-old Hispanic male between 150 and 175 pounds with dark circles under his eyes and a buzz haircut — grabbed her buttocks and fled when her beau confronted him.

The attack is eerily similar to a string of 20 or so incidents that rocked the Park Slope area last year, but suddenly stopped two months ago.

Police released six sketches of the possible assailants, who tend to sneak up from behind women and grope them before running off when they scream.

Camille Cruz, of the neighborhood watch group Safe Slope, said that she’s been giving fewer “safe walks” since the gropings died down this winter — but vowed to continue organizing against the culprit or culprits.

Safe Slope created an on-call buddy system in fall, escorting men and women from bars, subways and other venues to their homes.

“We should all still be aware that stuff like this will happen — even if there is this lag for a while,” Cruz said. “We’re here for our neighborhood and we’re going to continue to be on the lookout.”

The South Slope Sex Fiend, or fiends, began attacking women in March, but stopped cold in October — shortly after cops charged a fish market worker with forcible touching for a single groping incident in Sunset Park.

Anyone with information regarding Saturday’s attack is urged to contact CrimeStoppers at (800) 577-8477. All calls will be kept confidential.

UPDATE: This story was updated at 12:15 pm on Jan. 18 to include new information provided by police.

Reach Kate Briquelet at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.