Alleged serial groper arrested

The suspected assailant in a string of downtown Manhattan gropings has been taken into custody on sex crime charges.

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Manasa Gudavalli

An unknown motorist has been linked to multiple groping incidents on campus. This week, the NYPD arrested a suspect. (Image courtesy of NYPD, Staff Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Rachel Fadem and Suhail Gharaibeh

Police have arrested a suspect accused of sexually assaulting 10 people — including four NYU students — in downtown Manhattan between Aug. 21 and Sept. 10, according to local authorities and NYU’s Department of Campus Safety.

James White, 37, was taken into police custody at the NYPD’s Fifth Precinct in Chinatown at 10:30 p.m. on the night of Sept. 10. He was charged with one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, five counts of forcible touching and five counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, according to a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney.

The arrest came hours after a fourth NYU student reported being sexually assaulted on the evening of Sept. 10. The student was apparently the last in a string of victims to have been groped by White as he drove past on a moped.

White assaulted a total of ten victims across five precincts, according to the NYPD’s Special Victims Division — two more than WSN previously reported. The youngest known victims were 11 and 15 years old.

Vice President for Campus Safety Fountain Walker alerted members of the NYU community of White’s arrest on Monday, Sept. 13.

“I think I speak for the entire NYU community when I express relief at this development, which we hope will mark the end of these despicable drive-by groping incidents and provide some justice to those assaulted,” Walker wrote.

The series of gropings caused distress to many on campus. Upon learning of White’s arrest, students WSN spoke to reported a sense of relief, but said they would continue to remain vigilant due to the likelihood of similar incidents occurring in the future.

CAS senior Aleksandra Goldberg said that since NYU does not have a campus, it was unreasonable to expect Campus Safety to be responsible for the neighborhoods around campus.

“It does feel really nice to know that the person has been arrested,” Goldberg said. “If we had more of a closed campus, I would definitely feel safer. But we’re still in New York and people are still creepy.”

Although Campus Safety sends alerts to students about crime on campus, Goldberg felt that in the past, incidents have not been taken seriously. However, Goldberg was impressed with how NYU updated the community about the suspect’s alleged actions. 

“It was nice to know that NYU was actually paying attention to this story because so many NYU women had been targeted,” Goldberg said. “I think that was honestly my biggest relief.”

CAS sophomore Nia Watson — who has experienced street harassment herself — is relieved that the perpetrator was arrested, but wishes that these incidents were not a common experience for women.

“I have been lucky enough to not have experienced the same level of assault as the victims,” Watson said. “However, I have been touched repeatedly without my consent by random people on the street and in the parks of NYC at all times of day.”

This story was updated on Sept. 17, 2021, to include new information from the office of the Manhattan District Attorney about the charges against the suspect.

Rachel Cohen contributed reporting.

Contact Rachel Fadem at [email protected] and Suhail Gharaibeh at [email protected]