New York City police have reportedly nabbed the “well-dressed groper,” a pervert who had been grabbing Manhattan women’s buttocks – and taking upskirt pictures. And it turns out that the suspect works in finance.
Karl Vanderwoude, 26, was arrested Friday. He worked as an operations coordinator for MVision Private Equity Advisors, although the website for the Madison Avenue-based firm has now removed his name, photo, and biographical information. Vanderwoude was charged with two counts of forcible touching, two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, and one count of unlawful surveillance, involving two alleged groping incicents.
There were reportedly four “well-dressed groper” incidents, and Vanderwoude has been charged in two. The first one took place on February 27, at East 67th Street and Second Avenue, where he is accused of groping the buttocks of a 19-year-old woman. The second allegedly occurred on March 30, where he is alleged to have touched the buttocks of a 22-year-old female standing at Chambers and Center Sts. In that case, he also allegedly used his cell phone to capture upskirt images of her.
But some people close to him say that the police have arrested the wrong man. Carmen Olmedo, his landlady in Park Slope, said she didn’t believe he is the “well-dressed groper” in question. “To me he doesn’t have to grope anybody,” she told the New York Daily News. “All he has to do is wink and they’d go chasing him.”
Javier Maldonado, a neighbor of the suspect, said he had attended Bible study gatherings Vanderwoude held in his apartment. “I hope he didn’t do it,” Maldonado told the News.
Friend Natasha Cerda told the New York Post that the arrest is “totally a mistake.” She said she knew the kind of man he was, and that “if he was this sick person,” Vanderwoude “would have done something to me because he had many chances to.”
Another friend says that the suspect does not closely resemble the man caught on surveillance video, telling the Post: “the guy has a shorter haircut. The eyebrows and face . . . It’s just not him.”
Lori Cohen, Vanderwoude’s defense attorney, argued to the the Daily News that the surveillance images caught of the groper were simply too generic to make an arrest from. “There was nothing in my mind distinguishing about those photos at all,” she argued, saying that “he looks no different than any well-dressed, dark-haired man in his 30s in New York.”
Vanderwoude was released on his own recognizance Friday. A tipster reportedly called the police about him, and he was picked out of a lineup by the victims.
Lisa Swan is a Feature Writer for the Compliance Exchange and Wall Street Job Report. She is also a columnist for The Faster Times and a blogger for Subway Squawkers. Her work has also appeared in the New York Daily News, Yahoo Sports, Huffington Post and the books Graphical Player 2011 and Graphical Player 2010.