Yesterday, the teen suspected to be the Upper East Side groper was arraigned on charges of sexual abuse, forcible touching and burglary. Suspect Jose Alfredo Perez Hernandez was picked out of a lineup by three victims yesterday, but at least four other victims failed to pick him out. And Hernandez's lawyer says the failed lineups "show the weakness of witness identification...Sometimes the wrong person is picked out." Is it possible that there are TWO pint-sized gropers terrorizing the UES?
Prosecutor David Hammer said that three or four of the twelve victims did not pick Hernandez out, one woman chose someone else, and one could not decide between Hernandez and another man. Because of his short stature, the defendant had been “raised up on a chair” to hide his height and blankets covered the legs of all the men in the lineup. Nevertheless, Hammer noted that “the lineup was very good,” certainly good enough for the six charges.
One victim who did pick him out said he had followed her to her apartment building on East 85th Street on July 13th and "reached under [her] skirt and grabbed around [her] buttocks and knocked her to the ground." Another woman claims the suspect rubbed against her on a subway near the 68th Street station. And the third woman said he followed her out of the subway on July 17th and back to her apartment; when she confronted him by yelling, "What are you doing?" he fled before attacking her.
The 5-foot-1 Hernandez, who worked as a dishwasher at Antonucci Cafe on East 81st Street for the last six months, has been described as like a restaurant mascot by his former boss. But a former coworker, Diego Sanchez, recalled, "Last Sunday, he told me he was looking for a lawyer. He was worried since the first pictures showed up on the streets." Hernandez's uncle, Miguel Perez Flores, who has lived with him for the past year, told the Post that his nephew promised him he wasn't the groper: "I asked him. He said, 'No, I did nothing.' He said, 'No, no, no! Never this thing.' "