File this under bizarre criminal encounters. Police in Missouri say they have identified a "serial hugger" who has been terrorizing women in the St. Louis area for months. The problem from the police perspective is that they are not sure if he should face any criminal charges for his behavior.
The complaints arose from some 36 women who have said they were tricked into hugging a man they did not know. The man apparently seeks out women who are shopping alone and then pretends to be an old, long lost neighbor looking for a friendly hello.
According to a detective working on the case, the man walks up to woman and says "Hi! Remember me? How have you been?" The women obviously did not remember the pretend neighbor, but it happened so quickly and convincingly that they said they felt embarrassed not to have recognized him. He then continues the ruse by telling his marks that it's his birthday and throws his arms open for a big embrace.
The detective says that dozens of women came forward with their own stories after a local television station ran a story about the hugger. Some of the reports mention incidents that took place as far back as three years ago. All of the occasions reported thus far appear to have occurred in suburban areas surrounding St. Louis.
One woman reported being kissed on the lips by the man, though that's the most extreme his behavior appears to have been. The man was finally identified after one of his victims took down his license plate and police consulted security tapes from the supermarket where one of the hugs occurred. The culprit was described as a 44-year-old Caucasian with brown hair. Though his name has not yet been released, he was arrested by Warson Woods police at the end of June and released after being questioned by officers.
Prosecutors with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's office have not yet decided if they will move ahead and press third-degree assault charges against the overly friendly man.
If you've had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri criminal defense lawyer capable of fighting for your freedom, don't hesitate to contact our St. Louis criminal law firm today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: "'Hug thug' dilemma: His 'crime' is strange, not illegal," by Rheana Murray, published at NYDailyNews.com.