NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The man picked out of a lineup and charged in connection with a series of groping incidents in Manhattan said Monday he didn’t do it and has evidence to back it up.
Karl Vanderwoude, who was the target of a manhunt by the New York City Police Department, told his side of the story to CBS 2′s Chris Wragge in an exclusive interview.
“It still feels like a terrible dream,” Vanderwoude said.
Vanderwoude said police have got it dead wrong and that he is not the so-called “gentleman groper.”
Wragge: “Can you look at me here and say ‘I am not the guy who has been accused of this. I have never groped a woman.’”
Vanderwoude: “I can certainly look you in the eyes and say that I have never groped a woman and I’m not responsible for any of these charges.”
The 26-year-old Bible study leader said his life has been a nightmare since his arrest 10 days ago.
“It has been hard, it’s tough to be painted as something you’re not,” Vanderwoude said. “It’s very hard to recover from something like this.”
He said police came to his apartment that morning and showed him a surveillance picture that they said looked like him. When they asked him to go with them for questioning, he agreed.
“When they told me they thought it was me, I was a little confused, but of course I wanted to help in any way that I could, which is why I agreed to go to the station,” Vanderwoude said.
Vanderwoude said when they asked him to do lineups to see if victims could identify him, he thought the truth would be clear.
“At that point I was relieved. I figured they’d do a lineup and of course they won’t identify me,” Vanderwoude said.
He said police only told him the results of one lineup — that he had been identified.
“At that point I was shocked. That was when I knew that something was terribly wrong,” Vanderwoude said.
Police said the so-called “gentleman groper,” seen in surveillance video in business attire, has assaulted four women since February in Manhattan.
However, Vanderwoude said he wasn’t anywhere near the locations of the attacks when they took place and he said that video from his job, e-mails and colleagues’ statements will prove it.
“The evidence is…it’ll speak for itself. It’s impossible to be at two places at one time,” Vanderwoude said.
Vanderwoude said women on the streets should not breathe any easier.
“I’m not the right guy and, unfortunately, he is still out there,” he said.
Vanderwoude was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court in July. His lawyers said the evidence supporting his alibis has been sent to the district attorney.
There was no comment from the district attorney or the NYPD on Monday night.
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