Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Three women described nearly-identical suspects forcibly grabbed or flashed them on Thursday downtown and on West Campus.

February 16, 2018

3 Women Report Being Forcibly Grabbed or Flashed by Similar-Looking Suspects on Same Day in Ithaca

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Within 20 minutes on Thursday night in downtown Ithaca, one woman reported that a man had forcibly grabbed intimate portions of her body and another woman said a man had exposed his genitals in front of her.

The victims similarly described their perpetrators, and earlier on Thursday, a Cornell student described a nearly identical suspect who she said flashed her while she showered in a West Campus residence hall about 5:30 a.m.

Ithaca Police Sgt. Matthew Cowen said police are investigating the two downtown acts of sexual aggression — which occurred within three blocks of each other — as separate incidents until the investigations are complete. He said the incidents were “possibly related,” but did not refer to the student’s report of a man exposing himself in front of her on campus.

David Honan, deputy chief of Cornell Police, said on Friday morning that his department is continuing to investigate and has been in touch with the Ithaca Police Department regarding “their similar cases.”

At about 7:20 p.m., a “distraught” woman reported to police that a man walked up behind her around the corner of Cascadilla Street and North Geneva Street and “forcibly grabbed intimate parts of her body,” Cowen wrote in the release. “The female yelled for help and was assisted by other pedestrians in the area.”

Cowen said the unidentified woman was not injured and that the man fled on foot, heading south on Albany Street.

Just 18 minutes later, Cowen said, police responded to a report of a man exposing his genitals to a woman while she was walking on the 400 block of North Tioga Street, which is about three blocks away from the reported forcible touching incident occurred. The suspect fled south on North Tioga Street, Cowen said.

Both downtown victims described the perpetrator as a white man, 5-foot-8-inches tall, with a slim build. They said he was wearing dark pants, a dark or black hooded sweatshirt and a dark baseball cap.

The female Cornell student had reported to Cornell Police earlier on Thursday that a man illegally entered Founders Hall on West Campus, exposed himself to her as she was showering and fled the building.

The student told Cornell Police that the suspect was a white man, 5-foot-8-inches tall and between 30 and 35 years old. She told authorities he had an oval-shaped face and faint blonde stubble, Cornell Police said, and that he was wearing a gray sweatshirt with black sleeves, a blue flat-brimmed hat, blue pants and possibly white, high-top sneakers.

Ithaca Police urged anyone who may have been in the area during the evening incidents to contact the department at 607-272-3245. Cornell Police urged anyone with information about the Thursday morning exposure crime to contact the department at 607-255-1111.