Man Accused of Groping Girl, 4 Others in New York Stores, Lots

The father of a Long Island man who was arrested in a series of assaults, including an attack on an 11-year-old girl, said that his son is not a sexual predator but suffers from mental illness and should not have been released from a psychiatric ward.

Harvey L. Holmes, Jr., said that what his son, Harvey L. Holmes III, 42, had done was wrong. But he said there was another side to the story. "He's very mentally ill, and the system has really not helped him."

The attacks on women and the girl happened over a span of a couple hours on Saturday afternoon. The little girl was grabbed when she entered a supermarket with her mother at 2:15 p.m., Nassau County police said.

"He grabbed her from behind, took her and thrust her up against his body and made kind of a grinding motion against her," police Detective Lt. Kevin Smith said.

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His son, the elder Holmes said, had received a diagnoses of schizophrenia and was hospitalized at Nassau University Medical Center's psychiatric unit on Dec. 30 but later released on Jan. 25. He said that his son should never have been out.

"He should have still been in a mental hospital, for sure," Holmes said of his son.

The other victims, ranging in age from 19 to 46, were held and fondled in three parking lots and a convenience store over the next half-hour, police said in a report.

Officers found Holmes III driving near a mall, where he hit another car but didn't stop, police said. He was chased by car before he pulled over, they said.

Besides sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, menacing and forcible touching, Holmes was charged with failing to stop for a police officer and leaving the scene of an accident. He was to be arraigned Monday in Hempstead.

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