Teen reports groping incident at H-Mart, but the suspect was not identified

The victim said it took her a moment to realize what had happened.

The Federal Way Police Department reported that an alleged sexual assault had occurred, but the case was dropped due to the suspect being unknown.

According to a police report retrieved by The Mirror, a 17-year-old girl reported to police that she was inappropriately touched by an unknown man while shopping at H-Mart on May 13. The incident allegedly occurred around 10:30 a.m. at the store at 31217 Pacific Highway South.

According to the victim, she and her father were in aisle three when the suspect, described as a Hispanic or Asian male approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall with a medium build, approached them. The suspect was wearing a black baseball hat, a black and grey pullover jacket with the hood up, black sweats and white shoes. He said, “excuse me,” before touching the girl’s bottom with his hand as he passed by. The victim, who was wearing sweatpants, described the contact as a grab, with the suspect’s fingers applying pressure to her bottom for about 30 seconds.

The victim said it took her a moment to realize what had happened, and she did not react until her father began yelling at the suspect. She said she turned around in shock and disbelief, but did not say anything to the man, whom her father confronted.

The victim’s father confirmed the details of the incident. The father said the suspect’s hand was positioned as if for a low “high-five” and brushed against his daughter’s bottom as he passed. The father confronted the suspect, who reportedly apologized and claimed it was an accident. Store employees eventually separated them and both parties continued their shopping.

According to the report, the alleged crime occurred at about 10:28 a.m., but the victim and her father did not report the crime until about 2:10 p.m. When asked about the delay in reporting, the victim said she and her father initially did not think the incident warranted a police report, but later changed their minds.

The victim had taken a photo of the suspect, which was provided to police. The report said the victim was willing to press charges and participate in a photo lineup if the suspect is identified.

After interviewing the victim and her father by phone, police visited H-Mart to review CCTV footage. The footage corroborated the victim’s account, showing the suspect briefly touching her bottom as he passed by with his shopping cart.

“Based on [the child victim of sexual assault] and [the father’s] narrative of events and the CCTV footage, which depicts what appears to be [the suspect] intentionally touching [the child victim of sexual assault’s] bottom without her knowledge and consent, I believe [the child victim of sexual assault] was the victim of an Assault in the Fourth Degree with Sexual Motivation,” said the police officer in the case report. “However, due to [the suspect] being an unknown person to [the child victim of sexual assault] and [the father] and the delay in reporting resulting in [the suspect] no longer being at the scene, there is currently no probable cause for anyone’s arrest.”

The report said the case is currently inactive pending the identification of the suspect, referred to as S1. Attempts to identify the suspect through additional surveillance footage were inconclusive. A Safe City attempt to identify bulletin with the suspect’s photo has been created and distributed department-wide.