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[b]2 Galleria groping incidents lead to search[/b]
By Nik Bonopartis
Town police are looking for a man who sexually groped two women in a mall parking lot last week. The incidents July 8 happened within minutes of each other in the same area of the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall, police said.
In the first incident, Lisa Hayes of the Town of Poughkeepsie was with her children and about to get into her car about 12:30 p.m. when the man approached her.
''I was putting the stroller in the trunk and was walking to get in the car and all of a sudden, I felt a presence behind me,'' she said.
Startled, Hayes said she pulled back as the man reached for her hand while peeling off homemade John Kerry stickers he was carrying.
''He was saying, 'Are you going to vote for Kerry?' '' Hayes said. ''He started sticking them on my breasts and feeling them.''
Hayes said she punched the man in his arm and he ran away laughing. She hurriedly got in her car, drove toward the mall security entrance and reported the man to security.
The man apparently struck again in the meantime, town police Capt. Michael Woods said.
In the second incident, a woman was walking into the mall near the same entrance when the man approached her from behind and grabbed her breasts.
When the woman turned around, the man apologized and said he had mistaken her for someone he knew, Woods said.
The suspect was described as a white male, about 20 to 25 years old, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, with a medium build and dark hair. He was wearing baggy jeans and a white, untucked T-shirt. In one incident, the man apparently was wearing prescription glasses. In the other, he wore a baseball cap, according to the victims.
''We feel it's the same individual,'' Woods said.
Rich Henebery, director of mall security, said his staff has been working with police on the case.
Hayes and her husband, James Hayes, said they hope people are cautious.
''People should know there could be some kook running around,'' James Hayes said.