A man is suspected of groping women in three encounters near college campuses in St. Paul and another woman was targeted by the same suspect near another college in the city, officials said.
The four incidents occurred this month in an eight-day period, according to a “critical/major” alert issued Wednesday by the University of St. Thomas’ department of public safety.
St. Paul police are “actively investigating all of these incidents,” the alert said.
St. Thomas released the following description of the suspect: black, 6 feet to 6 feet 4 inches tall, thin build, eyeglasses, and dreadlocks pulled into a ponytail. He was wearing a black sweatshirt, black stocking cap, thick gray jacket and tan pants in at least one incident.
The first groping occurred Feb. 2 near St. Catherine University, as did the most recent on Monday, the alert read. The third reported groping occurred just north of Macalester College near Summit Avenue and Fry Steet, the notice continued.
St. Thomas revealed the most specific details about the man’s encounter with one of its students early Sunday afternoon that resulted in the suspect not following through. According to that student’s account:
The woman said she was walking back to campus along Cleveland Avenue, where a man approached and made “unwanted advances” toward her.
As the student neared the Signal Care Auto Garage on Grand Avenue, the suspect said he was going to grab her buttocks.
The woman got the attention of a garage employee inside, and that person called police. The suspect kept walking north on Cleveland and has yet to be located.
Anyone with information about any of the encounters is urged to call St. Paul police at 651-291-1111.
A few weeks earlier, a different man, Patrick Oliver Laine, 29, of St. Paul, was arrested in connection with two indecent exposure incidents near St. Thomas. Laine was charged by summons with a misdemeanor. The citation said Laine admitted to the offense. He declined Thursday to say anything further.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482