Man Quizzed in Groping Attacks on Upper East Side

Updated, 11:35 a.m. | Detectives in Manhattan are questioning a former dishwasher at an Upper East Side restaurant in connection with a string of gropings and other sexual infractions against at least a dozen women, law enforcement officials said.

An increasingly intense manhunt ended around 3 a.m. Tuesday when detectives took the man, Jose Alfredo Perez Hernandez, into custody in Corona, Queens at an apartment believed to be his father’s, according to law enforcement officials who insisted on anonymity because the man had not yet been charged.

Mr. Perez, whose age was not immediately known, was being questioned by Special Victims Squad detectives; lineups were expected to be held later on Tuesday, the police said.

He is being investigated in connection with attacks on women on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, mostly in the East 70s and 80s, often between midnight and 6 a.m., going back to May, the official said.

Though details were still developing, investigators said that Mr. Perez is 5 feet 3 inches tall, which is on the tall side of estimates that had described the suspect as being 4 feet 10 to 5 feet 3.

Mr. Perez worked until two weeks ago as a dishwasher at Antonucci, an Italian restaurant on East 81st Street near Third Avenue, the authorities said. Detectives had theorized that the suspect might be a restaurant worker, in part because of the odd hours of many of the attacks.

The crucial break in the case came when a person who claimed to recognize Mr. Perez as the man in surveillance images provided by the police tipped off investigators, the official said.

In some cases, the women, who were 21 to 31 years old and wearing  skirts or dresses at the time of the attacks, described being groped from behind by a man. In some instances, the man groped them after he had followed them home, the police said. At least one case has been categorized as an attempted rape.

Some of the women were able to fight the attacker off, the police said.

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