NBC New York
The man police presented to the world as a serial groper says officers have the wrong guy. He claims he has proof he didn't do it, and it's all a case of mistaken identity. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
Karl Vanderwoude, the 26-year-old Brooklyn man arrested earlier this month on forcible touching charges, tells NBC New York that police have the wrong man and insists he is not the so-called "well-dressed groper."
"My integrity, my character, has been tarnished by this," he said in an interview Monday.
Vanderwoude, who was arrested at his Park Slope home April 13, said he wasn't even aware that police were looking for a suspect when detectives knocked on his door.
"They showed me the surveillance picture," said Vanderwoude. "I see the resemblance, especially with the hair. But other than that, the clothing -- I don't own a dark winter coat, and from what I can tell, he looks taller than me."
The images looked similar enough for someone to call police and tell them Vanderwoude resembled the man they were looking for. Police said Vanderwoude was even picked out of a lineup by an alleged victim.
Within hours of first being questioned by police, he was arrested and presented to the world as a serial groper.
"I just didn't know what to think," said Vanderwoude, who leads a Bible study group. "I knew this wasn't me, and I would be able to prove it, but at the time, it seemed like it spiraled out of control."
Vanderwoude is accused in a groping incident at about 1:53 p.m. Feb. 27 on Second Avenue and 67th Street, and at about 7:30 p.m. March 30 at a subway station on Centre and Chambers streets. But his attorney says there's proof he couldn't have been the suspect.
"His company was kind enough to give us the security tapes," said John Tumelty. "We reviewed the video, and it shows he was at work and didn't leave."
That security video allegedly places Vanderwoude at his office on Madison Avenue and 26th Street at about 1:42 p.m. Feb. 27. Tumelty said the video shows his reflection in the glass.
And on March 30, Vanderwoude was out to dinner with a co-worker in Greenwich Village and was nowhere near the subway station, he said.
"I know that it will come out that it's not me, but it is hard to see that and know it's all over the Internet -- it's national," he said.
Vanderwoude's lawyer said he has given the new video evidence to the district attorney's office. Vanderwoude says he wants his name to be cleared quickly so that police can refocus their efforts on the real groper.
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