COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — A Coventry man accused of inappropriately touching a woman on a bike path will remain behind bars for the time being.
Gary Arnold Jr., 30, was arraigned Friday morning on charges including second-degree sexual assault. His bail was set at $10,000 with surety but the judge ordered him held without bail as a two-time probation violator.
Police allege Arnold approached a 66-year-old woman and grabbed her breast as she walked along the Coventry Greenway around 9 a.m. Thursday.
Responding officers were initially unable to find Arnold, but they obtained surveillance video which showed a man matching the suspect’s description walking on the bike path into West Warwick around 11 a.m.
Coventry and West Warwick police canvassed the area and after a short foot chase took him into custody.
In court, prosecutors said Arnold admitted to being on the bike path but said he was just saying hello to people and “any touching of the person was accidental.”
People who use the bike path daily told Eyewitness News the alleged incident put safety at the top of their minds.
“I think about that all the time, especially as a woman,” Amanda Bellone of Coventry said. “You’re always worried about someone bigger and stronger overpowering you, so I try to take precautions. I don’t take my money, I don’t wear my jewelry when I run.”
Tom Jemo said he also takes steps to make sure he’s prepared, just in case.
“I usually take Mace with me, or my watch now has a safety feature so if I’m in trouble, I can alert my emergency contacts,” he said.
Arnold has a significant criminal history, according to police. In addition to second-degree sexual assault, he was charged with obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct. He’s due back in court on Aug. 29 and was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.