Friday, May 11, 2012

Abuse:Falsely arrested & smeared

NYTimes    “Cops Nab the Grope Sicko,” the headline in The Daily News announced, and The New York Post described him as the “dapper fiend.” The Web site Jezebel posted an article about his arrest that drew lacerating comments on how Mr. Vanderwoude was possessed of a sense of entitlement that went with his job in private finance.

But Karl Vanderwoude wasn’t on 67th Street when one of the attacks took place; he was at his desk, sending e-mails, and seen on video opening a door for lunch deliveries. He wasn’t behind City Hall another time, but out to dinner with two people in Greenwich Village, and they had receipts from the cab and restaurant to back it up. 

All charges were dropped this week, and prosecutors announced that Mr. Vanderwoude could not have been the attacker. “The Police Department agrees,” Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said Thursday.

This was the criminal justice equivalent of a plane crashing, brought down in a publicity hurricane. Wrong man arrested and smeared; right man still out there. Could it have been prevented?

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