Man accused of groping woman walking in Phoenix

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William T. Ernst By Jennifer Thomas William T. Ernst By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX – Police have arrested a man suspected of groping a woman while she was walking in Phoenix on Jan. 30.

William T. Ernst, 33, faces charges of sexual abuse, kidnapping and resisting arrest. His bond was set at $12,000.

A woman told police that a man placed her in a bear hug and grabbed her breasts near Bethany Home Road and 16th Street. She was also pushed to the ground.

The suspect fled the scene.

Police saw a man matching the suspect's description, but he led them on a foot pursuit through the surrounding neighborhood before getting away.

An officer recognized the man from contact he had with him the previous day, according to court documents. The officer had the man's name and date of birth.

Police conducted a photo lineup which depicted Ernst in one of six photos of males with similar physical characteristics. The victim and her daughter, who was present during the incident, picked Ernst out of the lineup, according to court paperwork.

Police contacted Ernst on Wednesday and took him into custody.

During a police interview, Ernst said he was in the area during the time of the incident and that he has issues with drugs and alcohol, according to court documents. However, he denied contacting the victim and her daughter.