Teen speaks out after alleged groping

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A walk home from school quickly turned into a frightening moment for an Albuquerque teen.

She says she was grabbed between the legs by a man she had never seen. It turns out she wasn’t alone.

“I just see this guy walking ahead of me,” Hailee Williams said. “I didn’t think anything of it because it just looked normal.”

Earlier this month, 16-year-old Hailee Williams was walking home from school along McMahon near Unser.

“He turns around and just starts walking towards me very casual he was walking at a normal pace and everything,” Williams said.

What happened next was anything but normal.

“He just says ‘here!’ and then he grabs me.”

Williams says that grab was between her legs.

“It was just shock at first,” Williams said. “I got freaked out.”

“I like pushed him away and he just starts running.”

As detectives were investigating this case, they came across another that was eerily similar. They say there was another report of a man with the same description grabbing a girl.

That incident involved a 23-year-old woman who told police a week earlier, a man grabbed her between the legs, too. It happened near Irving and Rainbow, about three miles from the other groping.

That man was later identified by both victims as 33-year-old Benjamin Sandoval. APD arrested him Friday.

Sandoval made his first appearance before a judge Sunday. His lawyer says at one point during the investigation, his client was pulled over illegally.

The judge refused to drop the charges.

Williams says her memory of that day is difficult to shake.

“I feel like really violated still to this day,” Williams said. “It still grosses me out, honestly.”

With the arrest, she says she can now walk with peace of mind.

“It makes me feel a lot better knowing that it won’t happen to anyone else.”

Sandoval was jailed on a $10,000 bond. Court records show he was released Saturday after posting that bond.

Police say both Williams and the 23-year-old were alone at the time. They say always carry a cell phone, be observant of your surroundings and trust your instincts while out walking.

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