A 38-year-old St. Paul man was charged Tuesday with groping a University of Minnesota student as she walked after dark on campus, the latest in what authorities are calling “escalating nonconsensual behavior” by the at-large suspect.
Habtamu H. Ayana was charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with sexually touching the student on Sept. 1 as she walked near Territorial Hall on Delaware Street SE. between Oak and Walnut streets, according to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.
The complaint alleges that Ayana “is known to university police due to numerous other reports of [him] approaching females who do not know him and holding their hands, hugging them, and kissing them without consent.”
The gross-misdemeanor count against Ayana was charged by warrant, and he remains at large. Police did have Ayana in custody after the alleged incident, but he was released on Sept. 8 without being charged.
Prosecutors decided to go ahead and charge Ayana without having him in jail “based on [his] escalating nonconsensual behavior and the risk posed to the public,” the complaint read.
According to the complaint in the Sept. 1 incident:
Ayana approached the woman, introduced himself and complimented her. He then took her hands and said he was an information technology student at the university. A school spokesman said it has no record of Ayana having been a student.
While still holding the woman’s hands, he kissed her on the cheek, hugged her and put her hand between his legs.
Anyone with information about this case or others possibly involving Ayana is urged to call campus police at 612-624-2677.