A New York City man has been sentenced to state prison for trying to commit a sex crime against a college student, who was able to ward him off by faking a developmental disorder.
Ariel Caro, 32, was sentenced to two and a half years of state prison, the Westchester County District Attorney announced on Tuesday.
Caro pleaded guilty in July to attempted sex abuse in the first degree and to attempted burglary in the second degree for the 2018 incident. In September of last year, Caro “knocked on a student’s dorm room door at Pace University in Pleasantville,” according to the district attorney’s office.
That student opened the door, as she was expecting someone else, but “Caro pushed his way in, closed the door behind him and blocked her access. At that point, Caro exposed himself and proceeded to masturbate in front of her.”
She asked him to leave, according to the announcement, but Caro didn’t listen.
“He continued his actions and tried verbally to engage her,” the district attorney’s office states.
That’s when the student got creative.
“Using her wits, the student began to repeat a series of expressions, acting, she said, as if she suffered from a form of autism, as she had seen on television,” the announcement states. “As she got louder, he chose to flee.”
The student called her mom, who then called campus security on her daughter’s behalf. They were able to spot Caro on surveillance footage knocking on several dorm rooms.
Another student, who wanted to remain nameless, told the college's newspaper The Pace Chronicle at the time that Caro knocked at their door as well.
“He asked me if I needed medicine and I said no,” they said. “Then he asked me if I needed help with my homework and I closed the door.”
Caro was not a student at the time but he did graduate from the school in 2011, the college newspaper reports.
In court, prosecutor Michelle Lopez read aloud an impact statement written by the victim.
“Perhaps one might think that because I was not ‘physically injured’ – that perhaps the attack was not so serious – this is not so,” the student stated. “This attack was heinous and the attacker in my opinion is a threat to society.”
The student also said in her statement, “I wondered whether my life ambition of going to university was misplaced and thought about dropping out of college, but realized that this would only harm me further. [...]I hope one day I will feel safe again and not so helpless, a feeling I never had before this horrible attack.”
The burglary charge stems from Caro putting some of his possessions, including drug paraphernalia, in a vacant dorm room.
In addition to serving time behind bars, Caro will be supervised for a decade after his release and he will have to register as a sex offender.
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