A person dressed as the Sesame Street character Elmo waves at the photographer.

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Elmo in the Designated Activity Zone


Scott Heins / Gothamist

A man dressed as Elmo was arrested for groping a girl in Times Square on Sunday.

Police say that around 6:44 p.m., near Broadway and 46th Street, a group approached the costumed character for a photograph. While they posed, the Elmo allegedly took the opportunity to grab the buttocks of a 14-year-old girl.

The girl reportedly let others know, and the Elmo—Inocente Andrade-Pacheco, 54—was arrested and charged with forcible touching.

Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told the Daily News that his group was “tracking a growing number of complaints about people being touched without consent.” “The police are doing what they can, but we think there’s a need for some additional regulations or legislation, and we know the City Council is working on that,” he said.

The idea of legislating the costumed characters has been brought up before by Tompkins: Back in 2013, he recounted a litany of incidents, “Super Mario groped the woman. Elmo was ranting anti-Semitic things. Spider-Man punched a woman in the face. Now a kid was attacked by Cookie Monster. And those are just ones where there’s been an arrest! We’ve anecdotally heard there’s a lot more that’s been happening. One of my staff members said an Elmo patted her backside when she was walking through Times Square on a crowded day.”

The apparent, extremely publicized rise of Times Square characters tangling with the law led to the city creating “Designed Activity Zones” (DAZ) where the characters, plus tour bus ticket sellers, people who want to know if you like comedy, and other vendors are penned in. However, they still often work outside of these areas.