Portrait of a groper

The stand up comedian Ria Lina was groped on the street…and took a photo of the groper.

It’s a wide pavement where I walked, along London’s High Holborn, and the streets were not crowded at 10.30am. But a man was walking in the opposite direction towards me; directly towards me. There was no need for him to walk anywhere near as close as he did.

As he approached, he took his hand out of his pocket. That set off a signal in my mind: I immediately put my hand to my jacket pocket over my phone, because I assumed he might be about to attempt to pickpocket me. How wrong I was.

Now he was so close I had no time to change direction. As I swerved to avoid him he reached out with his hand, grabbed what he could, and brushed his full body alongside mine – and then kept on walking, as if nothing had happened.

I watched as he casually put his hand back in his pocket, not changing speed and only marginally straightening his path as he left me – his quarry – in the distance.

She was at a loss for a moment – and then she wasn’t.

So I turned around and followed the man back up the street. Racing through my mind were all the times I watched videos on the internet and thought “wasn’t it fortuitous someone thought to film this”. Here was a coming together of all those little thoughts into one moment of action: I took out my phone, camera at the ready, and the man stopped and turned to look before he crossed the street; I took his picture.

No more anonymity for you, buster. You might have got your sexual kicks when you grabbed me for a second or two, but I have your face. In my phone. And, now, on Twitter – forever.

With that, I turned around and kept walking. He didn’t follow me, though I was prepared to run, scream and raise hell if he tried anything. He did what any coward would: pretended it wasn’t him. But it was him. He knows it and I know it. And now, thanks to almost 1,000 retweets (and climbing), so do a whole lot of other people.

Police have taken a statement and are circulating the picture as they don’t believe it was a first offence.

Here’s that tweet and that photo.

Ria Lina ‏@EttieBoo
This man just reached out and groped me on High Holborn. Do you know him?

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