NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The man accused of being the “Gentleman Groper” has accepted a plea deal.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that Paul Kraft pleaded guilty to five counts of forcible touching in a creepy crime wave that had women from the Upper East Side to Lower Manhattan on edge.
Kraft was dubbed the “Gentleman Groper” for being well dressed. The groper grabbed at least five women on the buttocks or genital areas, in the streets and subways and watched as the wrong man was arrested, prosecutors said.
Busted in December, Kraft admitted to attacking women on the Upper East Side, and downtown on Varick, Broad and Center streets.
Under the agreement, Kraft, 31, will receive no jail time. He will have to undergo therapy once a week for 18 months in the Brooklyn-based Mustard Seed program, a sexual impulse therapy program, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Prosecutors cited Kraft’s lack of criminal history and willingness to take responsibility for his actions as reasons for allowing him to accept a plea deal, and for dismissing a count of unlawful surveillance against him.
Some said the sentence was far too light.
“There has to be swift and severe repercussions for violating the body,” said Mary Haviland, Executive Director of The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
Well-dressed, but innocent Bible study leader Karl Vanderwoude was originally charged in the case after being mistakenly picked out of a lineup by two of the victims.
Vanderwoude consistently proclaimed his innocence and provided an alibi. Charges against him were later dropped.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Kevin McGrath agreed to sign a certificate of release from civil disabilities, which means that Kraft, a lawyer, may be able to keep his law license as long as he continues to pay his Bar Association fees.
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