13-year-old charged with harassing women

Posted: March 05, 2014

GLOUCESTER TWP. A 13-year-old boy accused of groping and attempting to kiss women in a Gloucester Township apartment complex was arrested Sunday and placed in a juvenile detention center.

The boy, who police said attended school in Camden, had been wanted since December in several menacing incidents in the Autumn Ridge Apartments in Blackwood.

He was charged with attempted sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, lewdness, and harassment. He is being held in the Camden County Juvenile Detention Center.

Police made the arrest after receiving a tip about a suspicious person. They were surprised to find a young teen instead of a man in his 20s who they thought had been preying on women from their 20s to late 40s.

"One of the residents was really on the ball and spotted this person," said Capt. Jeff Weiserth of the township Police Department. The tipster, he said, noticed that the teenager matched a description in a police alert.

Police said the incidents began in December, when a woman reported a person began rubbing her shoulders in an odd way and ran off when she screamed.

About 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31, someone who police believe was the same person approached a woman and showed her a condom. As she walked away, police said, he grabbed her buttocks. She screamed and he fled.

Two similar incidents occurred Feb. 18. At 6:35 p.m., a woman reported that she was clearing snow off her car when a male grabbed her buttocks and attempted to kiss her. Five minutes later, another woman told police the same thing had happened to her as she was walking in the area.

Two days later, at 6:05 p.m., a woman reported she was approached by a male while going into her apartment. He grabbed her buttocks and fled.

Police put extra patrols in the area and issued an alert that day, describing a male they thought was in his 20's, had a medium build, and was 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10.

"We were concerned that it could escalate," Police Chief David Harkins said. "People were aware of the crime alert, saw this person, and thought he was acting suspiciously."

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, patrols were in the apartment complex on Little Gloucester Road when a woman called about the suspicious person, the chief said. When he saw police, he ran but was caught after a brief chase.

"We did not know how young he was until he was in custody," Harkins said.

Police are not aware of any other victims, Harkins said. Because the suspect is a juvenile, authorities said they could not release detailed information about him. Administrators at the boy's school have been notified, Harkins said.


bboyer@phillynews.com

856-779-3838 @BBBoyer

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