Questions and concerns surround a man accused of groping a woman in Ridgeland.
Chief John Neal says a woman jogging on the Ridgeland multi-purpose trail along the Natchez Trace said she was followed by a man who grabbed her buttocks. Police say 48-year-old Jackson Resident Ronald Bryant was charged with disturbing the peace after investigating the incident.
“We can only go by not what we think their intent may be in a crime, but we have to go by what happened,” said Chief Neal.
Neal says while police considered simple assault, and even attempted simple assault, it didn't fit the crime.
“You have to prove, at that point, that defendant had willful intent to cause physical injury," explained Neal. "By simply him coming up and grabbing her on the rear-end, I don't think there is any indication there was intent to cause physical pain or physical injuries to her."
Disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor. Neal says Bryant could face up to six months behind bars and up to a $1,000 fine.
“It's a disturbing crime that someone is able to do this and get away and only be charged with something as a misdemeanor,"said Neal. "There are no laws on the books that allows us to put anything more harsh on to him.”
Some people are calling for a stiffer charge.
Officials with the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence agree the charge is too lenient.
“When you say disturbing the peace, that is a slap on the wrist more than anything," said MCADV Executive Director Wendy Mahoney. "But when you have violated someone’s personal space -- or the body in any shape, form or fashion -- that is serious.”
Mahoney, as well as the Ridgeland Police Department, applaud the woman who stepped up and reported the incident and they hope this does not discourage other victims from speaking up.
“We want to make sure everyone is safe in our communities,” said Mahoney.
Chief Neal says Bryant was convicted of rape in 2010 in Hinds County. He is working with MDOC to revoke his bond.
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