New York City

Ballerinas Bust Alleged Groper in Washington Square Park

What to Know

  • Three students at the Joffrey Ballet School in lower Manhattan caught a man who had intentionally bumped into a dozen women on Wednesday
  • The trio said they were walking in Washington Square Park when they noticed what he was doing
  • They followed him, recorded the incident, canvassed the neighborhood when he got away and waved down officers so they could make an arrest

Ballet students Anya Salmin, Catie Beth Kirch and Leslie Mahan were enjoying a stroll through Washington Square Park when they saw a man stumble onto a woman.

Then they saw him stumble into another woman. And another.

By their count, it happened twelve times -- and once they realized it was deliberate, they knew they had to do something. So they followed him, cameras recording every second, until they could wave down an officer to make an arrest.

“We were horrified," said Mahan.

The students at the Joffrey Ballet School first noticed the man after dinner at Rosemary’s Pizza on Wednesday night. Once they realized that the man was exclusively bumping into women -- one of whom appeared to be a child -- they decided to start recording.

“Any time she sees something bad happening she just tries to record it,” Mahan said of Salmin, who had flown back to her home country of Australia since the episode.

They said many of the women were confused when the man bumped into them with his hands apparently intentionally placed. Some brushed the contact off as incidental, but they said others were taken aback.

“We were kind of watching the women’s faces as it was happening to them and they were just kind of confused and shocked,” said Kirch, of Georgia.

Mahan, who lives in Michigan, said they were hoping to come across an NYPD officer, but when one didn’t appear they began shouting. The man took off running, and the trio lost sight.

But they didn’t stop their search. Someone nearby told them the man lived at a shelter, and the trio spent 15 minutes canvassing the neighborhood until they tracked him down.

This time, an NYPD patrol car was in eye shot, and Mahan flagged down the officers, who chased the man down and cuffed him. The suspect, 28-year-old Dylan Hamilton, is now facing sex abuse and forcible touching charges.

“I’m shaking guys, we got him. We got him,” Mahan says in a Facebook video of the man being walked away in cuffs.

Kirch added with a fist pump on Friday, "just like, seeing him in handcufffs..."

"So awesome," Mahan finishes. 

Attorney information for Hamilton wasn’t immediately available.

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