Stranger touching DS in station store - v v long, but seeking reassurance that IWNBU

(139 Posts)
GertrudeSlojinski Sun 14-Jul-13 03:01:04

After a looong day, DS (4yo) and I popped into a store at Victoria Station to pick up a piece of plastic tat little toy I had promised him. DS is standing right next to me looking at one stand, I was looking at the opposite stand. DS and I don't look very alike at all, so it is possible that anyone looking at us could have thought he was unaccompanied (other than the lady i.e. me! standing within 45cm of him!).

Suddenly, out of the blue, a man (white male, wearing glasses, 50s/60s, approx 5'10", wearing a casual suit but of slightly dishevelled appearance) appears/stands next to DS - he is looking higher up the same stand and, without removing his gaze from that higher level, puts his arm around DS and starts to touch/fondle DS's shoulder whilst appearing to pull DS closer to him as though to lead him away. Poor DS froze! It happened in a split second and was clearly deliberate!

I immediately pulled DS away and challenged the man, telling him to get his hands off my son and not deign to touch him again. The man looks at me as though in anger but says nothing. I don't know how to explain it but his reaction made me think that perhaps he was not NT. He offered no explanation/excuse at all (e.g. he thought DS was alone and was trying to help). He then looks over at the stand again in a bid (I assume) to ignore me. I challenge him again, telling him he had no right to approach or lay a finger on my son. He turns to me and his response (said in a low voice but which he deliberately intended me to hear) was, "And why shouldn't I?". This chilled me to the bone and I pointed out that there was a video camera trained directly at us and I would report the incident to the British Transport Police. I turn around to find a member of staff - whilst telling them what just happened and pointing the man out to them, the man slips past us, leaving the store.

At this point, I deliberately made a decision to follow him out of the store. My short-term memory is atrocious and, having been a victim of an assault a few years ago, I remembered how difficult it was to give an accurate eye-witness description of the perpetrators. I almost wanted to leave it be but, given his reaction on being challenged, all I could think was that the man was clearly a risk (be that to himself if he in fact was not NT, or others).

I found him standing in the station concourse staring at the display (without his glasses on), as though looking for a train to catch. I took my phone out and said to him that I was going to take a photo of him and send it on to the BTP (I know you can take photos of people in public areas without requesting their consent, but I wanted to avoid any possibility of my actions being accused as underhand/surreptitious). He appeared to take a step towards me and DS and I say again loudly that he is not to touch my child. I wanted to get as many people's attention as possible. I leave the man staring after DS and I, and we return to the store. I tell the staff again what just happened, that I had taken a photo of the man and that I was going to file a report with the BTP. They reassured me and told me that they would happily give up any CCTV to the BTP to assist. To try and regain some normalcy for DS and reassure him that he had done nothing wrong, DS and I continue browsing.

One of the store staff suddenly approached me and DS and asked if I would recognise the man. I said yes and asked why. Turns out the man had just come back into the store! He was approaching the children's section again but on seeing me and the member of staff looking at him, turns on his heel and leaves the store. He goes to sit on one of the public benches and proceeds to stare into the store.

At this point, I decide that I shouldn't wait to file a report with the BTP. I head back into the station (the man stares at me and DS, and I stared back to show I was not going to be cowed) and approach the ticket barriers and request that the guards contact the BTP. All the while, the man is still sitting on the same bench but, by this time, has turned around/changed his seat to face me and DS. I pick DS up and turn his face away so he can't see the man staring at us, and I explain to him what is going on. A member of the BTP finally turns up after what seems like ages. I look towards the bench but the man appears to have moved on shortly before.

After a brief walk-around, we never did find the man. Long story short, the BTP took a statement from me and I emailed them the pictures there and then. I was nervous that perhaps I had overreacted but they reassured me that I had done the right thing. They said that they would put his details out to the guards at the barriers to be on the look-out should he try to board a train.

Then, half an hour later, I receive a phone call from the Met who appear to imply that it is only worth their pursuing it if I thought there was any adverse intent to the man's actions. The officer I spoke to didn't use the word "sexual" at any point, but it seemed clear to me that that was what he meant. I told him that I could not say with all certainty what the man's intention was, but it clearly could not be positive if he made no attempt to offer any rational explanation about/for his behaviour. I was told they will contact me should anything come up.

I'm not hopeful that the man will be found. I am still shaking and seething about the whole thing. I have, in the past, given DS the "talk" several times about what to do if he is approached by anyone, strangers or not, and that he is to tell them in a loud voice to leave him alone and immediately shout for/come and get me or his father, but my poor 4yo just froze in shock/fear. I feel like I failed to protect DS, and worse, may even have put him at further risk by going after the man to take a photo. All I could think the whole time was that I wanted to hit the man for touching my baby and make sure he doesn't get the chance to do that to someone else's child. Now finding it hard to sleep as I keep replaying the incident in my head. I know in my heart of hearts that my actions were probably not unreasonable, but some reassurance would be much appreciated.

threesypeesy Sun 14-Jul-13 08:49:13

God thats horrible op. You done a fantastic job and reacting immediately and to have had such a clear head to go about things very quickly. Hope you and your ds are ok and the police find that creepy little man.

ZillionChocolate Sun 14-Jul-13 09:05:07

I don't think there was much danger in following him in a busy railway station. Well done for protecting your son.

ZillionChocolate Sun 14-Jul-13 09:05:59

I suppose the challenge now is not to make if a massive deal for DS.

kalidanger Sun 14-Jul-13 09:49:15

I'm terribly sorry but what does 'NT' mean?

MakeGlutenFreeHay Sun 14-Jul-13 09:56:16

NT = Neuro-typical.

hollyisalovelyname Sun 14-Jul-13 10:07:31

Reading your post, to me, YOU ARE A HERO. After your experience no doubt you were in shock. Well done for following through and going to the transport police, despite the silent intimidation you faced....evil triumphs because good people do nothing....
I hope you can explain to your son about the situation to allay any fears he may have, because of his age he won't understand why his mum got so upset. I'll say it again, You are a super mum.

manicinsomniac Sun 14-Jul-13 10:16:02

Why do you think you were BU? Because he appeared to have SN?

You did the right thing. If he is innocent and/or has SN then nothing will happen to him. If he did have sinister motives then you could have saved a child from an awful experience or worse.

tallulah Sun 14-Jul-13 10:22:53

What a horrible thing to happen. You did absolutely the right thing and I commend you for your presence of mind. I'd have just scurried away embarrassed I'm sure.

His behaviour sounds far too sneaky to be excused as not NT - continuing to browse the shelves while putting his arm round DS and pulling him towards him shows planning, not over friendliness/ not being aware of social cues.

I am a bit shock that the police don't seem to think it's important.

tigerlilygrr Sun 14-Jul-13 10:30:00

OP, from now on I will keep an even closer eye on my children in stations. That has to be a good thing. So on top of protecting your own child, you have prompted a little extra protection for mine. Thank you.

minouminou Sun 14-Jul-13 10:40:33

You have a photo of this creep, that's invaluable.
It might be an idea to circulate it to PCSOs as well as the regular police.

What a horrible experience. You acted like a total hero.

hermioneweasley Sun 14-Jul-13 10:47:10

Agree with others - I am so impressed with your clear thinking, and that you didn't back down when he tried to make out you were unreasonable.

ImNotBloody14 Sun 14-Jul-13 10:49:49

Christ that is terrifying!

Fwiw i think you acted in a very level headed way- im not sure i would have been so calm and sensible

theboutiquemummy Sun 14-Jul-13 10:52:01

Ooh how shocking for you my heart goes out to you and your DS YDNBU and well done for reporting it also
This man is a pedophile and his indignant reactions bear that out

Trust your instinct and don't let anyone tell you otherwise

I would also speak to your local police 101 and let them know what happened if only for reassurance

MadameJosephine Sun 14-Jul-13 10:59:57

Your post makes me feel sick just thinking about it and I am very impressed with the way you handled it. I think I would have probably either frozen in shock or exploded in rage, neither of which would have been ideal. Your actions protected not only your own child but others too if the police are looking out for him. Well done!

YouTheCat Sun 14-Jul-13 11:07:11

You did the right thing. How awful though.

scarletforya Sun 14-Jul-13 11:07:12

YWNBU

As well as protecting your ds, you have added to information the shop staff and transport police have. They now have his picture and modus operandi.

He was persistant coming back into the shop and very cocky. He sounds dangerous.

Well done OP, I'm sure you are pretty shaken but you did admirably! flowers

GingerBlondecat Sun 14-Jul-13 11:11:26

Good job, OP. Scary

flowers

odd question, what does NT mean??

forgetmenots Sun 14-Jul-13 11:23:27

Yadnbu - how scary shudder

Plomino Sun 14-Jul-13 11:25:12

You did exactly the right thing . In fact you did everything you could do , and then some. Those pictures may well prove invaluable as I have no doubt they will go onto a briefing , and be seen potentially metwide , because it may not be the only station he frequents . You may have helped not only one child , but countless others .

So well done !

VashtaNerada Sun 14-Jul-13 11:26:56

If this was London Victoria I would drop a quick e-mail to the met as well as BTP (Warwick SNT I think)

Mumsyblouse Sun 14-Jul-13 11:30:09

There is no way that this person's actions can be harmless because you don't go around putting your arms around other people's children you have never seen before in public places. There cannot be a good reason for that- and his reaction when challenged 'why shouldn't I?' tells you all you need to know about how he sees children. You were ace and very protective and I'm glad you took a picture of him and reported him (he was lucky you didn't hit him).

VashtaNerada Sun 14-Jul-13 11:31:09

That's Safer Neighbourhoods Team (community police)

GertrudeSlojinski Sun 14-Jul-13 12:31:08

Thanks everyone. It happened in the large WH Smith at London Victoria station. I think I just had to type it out to realise I wasn't being unreasonable as I managed to fall asleep before reading any responses! I will follow it up with the BTP if I can. DS appears to be fine today - no mention of the "naughty stranger".

YummyYummyYum Sun 14-Jul-13 16:43:13

I am so glad you protected your boy. When I was 9 years old I was allowed to take the bus from school to home alone. One man touched my leg and because I was sitting by the window and looking outside I thought it was by mistake and then he tried to touch my hand. I froze and looked at the man. He was masturbating. I said: excuse me and went to a different seat. I was ashamed of saying anything.

Backpaw Sun 14-Jul-13 16:50:44

Good for you for taking a picture!

A man tried to lure a small child away at the babies and toddlers group where I work. He just walked in off the street. The mums saw him off but my first thought was 'why didn't someone whip out their phone and snap him?'.

My second thought was 'why didn't they rugby-tackle him and sit on him until the police arrived?'.

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