By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Six women have been groped from behind while walking home from Metro stations in Arlington County since September, including four in the past week, police said yesterday.
Although the assaults occurred outside Orange Line stations, police think the incidents might be unrelated.
"The victims, all females between the ages of 23 and 31, were all coming from the Metro going back to their homes," said Arlington Detective Robert Icolari of the special victims unit. "In all the cases, the subject comes up from behind, grabs their buttocks and then leaves," he said.
Victims have given varying descriptions of the assailants, including a young Hispanic man and a 50-year-old white man, Icolari said. He said the differences suggest that "it's not the same subject, but rather a rash of improper behavior."
Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the agency is alerting its Transit Police officers to be vigilant in the areas where the incidents have occurred.
The most recent groping happened at 7:10 p.m. Monday in the 1800 block of North Highland Street, when a 31-year-old woman walking home from the Clarendon Metro station was grabbed, Icolari said.
On Sunday, about 12:45 a.m., a 23-year-old woman was groped from behind in the 4700 block of Wilson Boulevard as she walked home from the Ballston Metro station, police said.
On Saturday, about 1:50 a.m., a 23-year-old woman was exiting the Courthouse Metro station on an escalator when she was groped. On Thursday, a 26-year-old woman walking home about 5:20 p.m. from the Rosslyn Metro station in the 1900 block of North Lynn Street was groped by a man who had followed her for about two blocks.
The first of the six assaults happened Sept. 22, when a woman was groped outside the Courthouse station at 8:15 p.m., and the second was reported Oct. 14, when a woman was grabbed outside the Ballston station at 10:45 a.m.
"This kind of improper behavior happens more regularly and is reported less regularly than you would think," Icolari said.
Arlington police officers said they are looking for a man who tried to put plastic bag over the heads of at least three women as they walked alone in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Each time, the woman fought him off, police said.
Sarah Osborn, 25, lives in the Courthouse area and takes the Metro at least twice a day, to go to work downtown or out with friends. "I feel pretty safe here, because it's well lit and heavily trafficked," she said outside the Courthouse station yesterday. "I walk alone here at all times of the day and night."
Icolari said that he is glad people feel safe in Arlington but that they should always be aware of what is happening around them.