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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – Coral Gables Police have arrested a man they say groped a University of Miami (UM) student while she was walking on campus.
New surveillance from the University of Miami shows how closely the suspect followed the victim as she was walking towards the campus.
Authorities said a student was walking through the UM parking lot just before 8:30 p.m. on November 15th when Sciandra grabbed her buttocks.
That’s when the victim turned, screamed and allegedly hit 49-year-old Richard Salvatore Sciandra with her purse before running away.
“I was scared, especially as a girl that it happened,” said UM student Hannah Wiedner.
“It was a little scary from my perspective because she has to use the Metro all the time,” said Wiedner’s boyfriend, Michael Valancius.
Officers arrested Sciandra on November 26th in connection to the case following a tip after UM issued a crime alert.
“We needed to get this person off the street before he harmed other victims,” said Coral Gables Police Officer and spokeswoman Kelly Denham. “In this case because the victim fought back, this case did not escalate.”
Denham told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that police urge people to always try to get away from their attackers.
A check of records showed Sciandra had been arrested five times before since 1989 for prowling as well as burglary with assault and marijuana possession and aggravated assault from 2012.
Denham said a victim from a previous and similar assault from 2012 recognized Sciandra’s photo and called police with his name.
A police report stated the caller said Siandra had assaulted her and her daughter in a similar fashion.
Sciandra was arrested while walking his dog near his Cutler Bay home.
On Monday afternoon, D’Oench tried to speak with Sciandra at his home. When he knocked, a man at the house opened the front door and then slammed it.
One neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said Sciandra was a handyman who did odd jobs in the neighborhood. She said Sciandra seemed like a “nice person” and liked to walk his dog.
Denham reminds students to be careful when they are walking alone at night and to avoid distractions including texting and using their cell phones.
“Anyone walking has to remain alert,” she said. “This can happen any time at any place.”
She said the UM offers free rides to anyone who does not want to walk alone at night.
Meanwhile students said they were grateful an arrest had been made and said this case alarmed them.
“I’m definitely glad he was arrested,” said Wiedner.
But Valancius still has his worries.
“I still wanna walk her back because I don’t exactly feel entirely safe,” he said.