BLUFFTON

Man charged with groping women in Bluffton stores

astice@islandpacket.comJuly 11, 2012 

Bluffton police are searching for other victims after a 38-year-old man was charged Tuesday with following a woman around a grocery store in Bluffton and groping her.

Javier Ramirez-Vaca of Bluffton has been charged with second-degree assault and battery and is being held on a $15,000 bond. He also is being held for questioning by Immigration and Custom Enforcement about his residency status, according to the Beaufort County Detention Center log.

On June 22, a woman told police a man grabbed her inappropriately while she shopped at the Kroger's at 125 Towne Drive.

A video from the store's surveillance system showed a man police identified as Ramirez-Vaca following her into the store and later grabbing her from behind, a department news release said. The man made it appear as if he had bumped into her, the release said.

On Tuesday, a second woman reported that the same man followed her around the Publix supermarket on Baylor Drive. She told police she remembered him from a similar incident about two months ago, when she reported that he grabbed her inappropriately as she shopped at Target in Bluffton.

After that incident, the woman followed him into the parking lot and wrote down his license plate number. That allowed investigators to track him down, Sgt. Joe Babkiewicz said.

Bluffton police are reviewing the surveillance footage from Publix to see if additional charges should be filed.

Officers believe other women may have been assaulted by Ramirez-Vaca and urged them to call the Crime Tip Line at 843-706-4560.

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