In February 2017, two women reported a man wearing a Santa hat had groped them at the 23rd Street subway station of the R and W lines. Both women, who had been the victims of separate incidents, were able to flee the scene and report the man to police. One of these women were able to snap a photo of the man, and before long news of Manhattan’s “Bad Santa” had been circulating throughout various media outlets.
Police were able to catch up with the man, later identified as 33-year-old David Cruz-Rodriguez, in March after witnessing him littering in Bryant park. The officers recognized Cruz-Rodriguez on account of his distinctive choice in headwear and placed him under arrest for the two sexual assault incidents.
It wasn’t long after Cruz-Rodriguez’s release that he was back to his old tricks. This time, police caught up with Cruz-Rodriguez at Brighton Beach when several female beach-goers reported to park officials that the man had groped or fondled them inappropriately. Within a matter of minutes, several women, including a sunbather who had been napping on the beach at the time of the assault, reported inappropriate conduct by Cruz-Rodriguez. One woman reported that the man had grabbed her breasts and began to expose himself to her.
Within a half an hour the serial groper had been reported to police by at least five women who had been at the beach that day. Cruz-Rodriguez was arrested and charged with forcible touching, as well as resisting arrest.
Police would not reveal whether or not Cruz-Rodriguez had been wearing his Santa attire at the time of the assaults.