CHICAGO — At least five women have been groped recently in Lincoln Park, and one victim is warning her neighbors to be on the lookout.
Pauline Gebczak said she was groped in late April, the attack leaving her shocked and shaken up. She’s concerned the same man is behind four similar attacks in the neighborhood.
“It’s happening so many times. There’s clearly a problem,” Gebczak said. “I just want this guy to not be able to do this anymore to anyone.”
At 9:50 p.m. on April 21, Gebczak was walking from a friend’s home at Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street to her own home down the street, a walk she’s taken “hundreds of times at various times of day,” she said. She felt safe on the walk because there’s a bar, River Shannon, along the route, meaning people always are in the area.
But as Gebczak, who was carrying several bags and speaking on the phone with her mom, approached the bar, she felt someone behind her. She looked back and saw a man who was “way too close,” making her think something was off, she said. Gebczak sped up and moved to the side of the sidewalk.
Then the man reached under Gebczak’s dress and grabbed her, she said.
Gebczak fell forward. The man laughed at her and then ran off, she said.
Gebczak went into River Shannon, where her friend met up with her and she called police.
“I wasn’t expecting that to happen ever, but especially not where it did,” Gebczak said. “I was on the phone with my mom … so she heard everything happen. That was the worst part because she was so helpless and didn’t know what was happening or how to help me.”
The investigators were “great” when talking to Gebczak, she said, asking many questions so they could understand what happened. They told her they’d drive around the area in hopes of seeing the man, who had fled west on Armitage Avenue.
“Obviously there’s little they can do. I didn’t get a good look at the guy,” Gebczak said.
Gebczak’s attacker was a man, possibly Hispanic, who was 25-35 years old and 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-8 in height, she said. He wore a black baseball cap, a gray hooded sweatshirt and gray pants with a dark-colored backpack.
No one was in custody and an investigation is ongoing in the incident, police said.
Gebczak said she’s been shaken up since the incident and has been taking Lyft or Uber in lieu of walking. She said she hopes women in the area will stay vigilant and consider taking rideshares or carrying pepper spray since the attacker is “obviously out and about.”
Gebczak reached out to Block Club because the attack on her and the man who did it seemed similar to four other attacks that have happened in Lincoln Park in recent weeks. It was not immediately clear if the attacks are linked to Gebczak’s assault.
During two of those attacks, a man walked up to women from behind while the women were alone and grabbed their genitals, then ran off, according to a Chicago Police community alert. In one instance, the man assaulted a woman who was with her friend and then got onto a bike and rode off.
The attacks occurred:
- 11:30 p.m. May 17 in the 1900 block of North Cleveland Avenue
- 4 a.m. May 25 in the 2200 block of North Orchard Street
- 10:30 p.m. May 29 in the 1800 block of North Burling Street
The attacker was described as a white Hispanic man who was in his mid-20s to mid-30s, 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-10 and 150-170 pounds, police said. He had dark hair and wore a white T-shirt and dark-colored pants or shorts.
In another community alert, police said a woman was walking at 1:45 a.m. May 24 near Sheffield and Fullerton avenues when a man came up to her from behind and touched her inappropriately. The man ran away afterward.
That man was described as being possibly Asian, in his mid-20s, 5-foot-10 and having black hair, police said. He wore a gray sweatshirt and black shorts.
Anyone with information about the attacks was asked to call police at 312-747-8380 or 312-744-8261.
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