Police urge more women to report sexual assaults

Only five come forward against man suspected of groping dozens in Mass.

March 28, 2004|By BOSTON GLOBE

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A Harvard University janitor charged in a recent series of sexual assaults in Cambridge has admitted to police that he groped more than 120 women, authorities said yesterday during a seminar on combating street crime. However, only five of Geremias Cruz Ramos' alleged victims reported the crime, and police want to know why.

In a separate case earlier this year, police apprehended a male bicyclist who allegedly groped several women in the Harvard Square area. His build, clothing, and the antique bike he was riding matched exactly the women's description of the suspect.

But police were unable to arrest the suspect.

"There is a reluctance among women to come in and identify him," Police Commissioner Ronnie Watson said during yesterday's safety conference at the Charles Hotel, which was attended by about three dozen people. "But we know who he is, and as long as we keep an eye on him, we can prevent future crimes from happening."

The reluctance to report sexual assaults was the main theme of the seminar, which was designed to help reduce the risk to women from street crime in and around Harvard Square. While most assaults on women occur at home or by people who know them, authorities said, residents still need to be more aware of their surroundings when on the street.

The Harvard Square area was the scene of a series of sexual assaults reported to police from October 2003 to January. An attempted rape in December is under investigation, police said.

Ramos, charged in January with two indecent assaults, has told authorities that while at work, he would take off his uniform shirt, assault the women, and then return to work to watch police scramble at the scene of the crime, Watson said. Ramos also allegedly told authorities he had been assaulting women in Cambridge and Boston since June, Watson said.

Ramos' lawyer, Carlos J. Dominguez, has denied police statements that his client admitted to the crimes.

Ramos, a native of Colombia, is in the custody of the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services because of questions about his immigration status, Watson said.

"We realize this is a community issue," said Rick Avery, regional president of Sercuritas Security Services, the world's largest security company, which sponsored yesterday's event. "We wanted to let people know that reporting a crime does not necessarily mean you will be dragged into the prosecution of the crime. We just need you to report it."

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