A 36-year-old Grand Haven man has been charged with criminal sexual conduct fourth degree after allegedly groping a woman on the Grand Haven boardwalk in March.
Patrick Russell Alber was arraigned on the charge - a high court misdemeanor - on Tuesday in Ottawa County District Court, according to the Grand Haven Tribune. Albers faces up to two years in prison, if convicted of that charge.
The defendant entered a not guilty plea and was released on a $250 bond.
On March 7, a woman reported being approached and groped by a man while on the boardwalk.
Alber was identified following an investigation and interviews with women who said that they were approached by a man with a similar description, according to Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke.
In August, police asked for help identifying the suspect in an article published in the Grand Haven Tribune.
Between 2:45 and 3:30 p.m. on a Monday in early August, a woman said she was walking on the boardwalk just north of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office when a man began walking and talking with her. He claimed to have recently moved into a farm house south of town and was starting up two new businesses.
The woman told police that she became increasingly nervous as the man continued to question her. When he began telling her how attractive she was, she stepped into a local business at Chinook Pier to separate herself from him.
The suspect then began looking into other businesses in the area. An employee at another Chinook Pier business told police the man later approached her and began to comment on her looks, making the employee uncomfortable.
The man was described as a white male, mid- to late-30s, with well-groomed dark brown hair and a beard. He had an earring in his left ear and was wearing a teal-colored athletic shirt, khaki shorts and tennis shoes.
A similar incident occurred in the afternoon of March 7 in the same general area.
“The suspect described in (the March) incident had strikingly similar physical characteristics, although he was described as possibly being in his early 40s,” Lt. Joe Boyle of the GHDPS said. “The subject again approached a female walking on the boardwalk and commented on (her) physical looks. In this incident, the male subject inappropriately touched the complainant after following her on the boardwalk.”
The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety urges anyone with information similar to these incidents to call detectives at 616-842-3460, or contact the Ottawa County Silent Observer at 877-887-4536 or leave a tip online at mosotips.com. If you experience incidents similar to the above case, police urge you to immediately call 911.