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It turns out the guy famous for giving out hugs in Times Square is more of a mean-spirited grizzly bear than he is a cuddly teddy bear.
A 22-year-old female Canadian tourist refused to tip the so-called “Free Hugs Guy” Jermaine Himmelstein, so he hauled off and cold-cocked her in the face, sending her to the hospital, and the hugger to the hoosegow.
He approached the woman and a companion at about 11:00 a.m. Thursday holding a sign offering “Free Hugs.”
Himmelstein,24, then took a photo of himself hugging the young woman, identified as Sophie Violene Dauvois, who apparently took free to mean exactly that — free.
When she declined to hand over a tip, he slugged her in the right eye and ran off, but didn’t remain on the lam for long. The New York Daily News reported:
Himmelstein disappeared into Times Square, but was located and arrested about four hours later, charged with robbery and assault. He was grabbed by a sharp-eyed NYPD recruit who was in uniform and armed with the perp’s photograph, police sources said.
Dauvois was treated at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital for a swollen, bloody black eye. As she was escorted out of the Midtown South stationhouse holding a patch over her eye, she refused to speak to reporters.
Himmelstein has been in the hug business since 2013, when he got his start in Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village, but underlying the show of affection has been a mean streak — directed particularly against women.
He threw a can of soda at a woman who refused to hug him in 2013, and punched another in the face at the Coney Island boardwalk last year. These are just two of his 16 arrests since 2012.
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Clip via CBS 2 News New York.
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