Ithaca, N.Y. — A 26-year-old woman was walking down South Albany Street in Ithaca last Monday afternoon, speaking on the phone with her mother, when she began to notice him.

The man was shirtless, and yelled as he walked behind her.

She ignored him at first. But he moved closer and closer.

The woman took a turn onto Park Street, where she hoped that someone would be around to help her at the traffic circle.

But the man caught up to her, grabbed her by the arm and attempted to turn her around. She screamed and tried to escape.

“He had such a strong grip on my arm I was unable to pull away,” she later told police.

Matthew Kriewald

The assailant was the man pictured above — Matthew Kriewald, 30, of Binghamton — according to police. Kriewald has been charged with unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor, and forcible touching, also a misdemeanor, and accused of groping the woman’s private parts.

A witness to the incident was in his car with his son when he came upon the incident.

He got out of his car and asked the woman if she knew the man and if she was okay.

She said no to both questions, through tears.

“I asked him what he was doing and if he was trying to rape her,” the bystander later told police, according to records.

Kriewald began walking away.

But the bystander pursued him on foot and called the police, leaving his son with the woman that had been groped, records show.

Kriewald then ran into the yard of a house on Wood Street, and the bystander alerted police of his location. Shortly after, the assailant fled again, according to records. But the bystander wasn’t giving up.

The bystander chased after the assailant, on foot, around the block until police arrived moments later.

Ithaca police officers arrived on the scene and arrested Kriewald.

A statement from the woman who was reportedly groped.
A statement from the woman who was reportedly groped.

The witness later told police that Kriewald “looked high” and “kept saying that he was Jesus … and something about a gun.”

Kriewald was sent to Tompkins County Jail on $3,000.00 bail.

Police documents say Kriewald committed the crime “to gratify his sexual desire and [name redacted] did not give the defendant permission to touch her in any way.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.