Man charged with groping women at Dartmouth charged again

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-05-2023 9:00 PM

LEBANON — A woman who said she was forcefully groped outside a department store on Route 12A credits two teenage bystanders with helping to track down the alleged assailant.

According to court records, the suspect is a Piermont man who was out on bail after being charged weeks before with groping women on the Dartmouth College campus.

William Menard was arrested in February after allegedly assaulting two different women outside different stores in West Lebanon, according to records.

Menard was charged with multiple counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and sexual contact for allegedly “grabbing and/or fondling” a woman in the parking lot of Walmart before moving on to Target and grabbing another woman’s backside and shoving his hand down the front of her pants, according to complaints filed in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon.

Menard was held for more than a month in Grafton County jail following the alleged West Lebanon assaults. He was ordered to wear an ankle monitoring device and released to home confinement on March 28, county corrections department officials confirmed this week.

A public defender representing Menard did not respond to messages seeking comment on Wednesday.

The back-to-back assaults in West Lebanon occurred less than a month after Menard, 18, was identified as the man who allegedly groped four women on the Dartmouth campus on Jan. 24 on his first day as temporary employee.

Menard was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor count of simple assault and unprivileged physical contact for allegedly grabbing the backside of a student.

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Dartmouth terminated Menard and banned him from campus.

The alleged assaults in West Lebanon on Feb. 20 echoed the Dartmouth allegations — approaching women from behind and grabbing them — but should be viewed as an escalation in behavior, according to a woman identified in court records as one of the victims.

“He is serial, calculated toucher,” Emma Wardwell told the Valley News in an interview on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, she described how she was assaulted in the parking lot of Target, where she had gone after work. Wardwell, 28, of Springfield, said she was loading shopping bags into the back seat of her car when someone came up from behind “and straight out grabbed my butt.”

The act so stunned Wardwell that she momentarily froze and the assailant put his hands down the front of her leggings, she said. Wardwell said she spun around and saw a man she didn’t know staring at her, and he said, “Hey, what’s up?”

At that point, Wardwell — who said she is 5’11” — “shoved him off me” and began screaming at him and trying to call public attention to the attack.

The assailant began to “slink away,” she said, and she briefly chased him through the parking lot, but when she dropped her phone and stooped to pick it up, she lost sight of him among the parked vehicles.

Wardwell said she returned to her vehicle and called 911 to report the attack.

“I was yelling to anyone within earshot what had just happened to me,” Wardwell said. None of the bystanders approached her.

A few minutes later a Lebanon police officer arrived, Wardwell said, and while he was asking her what happened, he mentioned police had just interviewed another woman at the nearby Walmart who reported a similar assault.

Wardwell said the attack at Walmart as described by police was nearly identical to her experience.

“The forceful grabbing of the buttocks ... humping from behind, that’s exactly what he did to me,” she said.

Police were still trying to identify the suspect when “a couple of kids” approached Wardwell and the officer, she said. The two boys said that they had seen Wardwell screaming for help and saw a man jump in the passenger seat of a car that sped off.

Suspecting that “something really bad happened,” the boys got into their car and followed the vehicle with man inside it as it headed south on Interstate 89, according to Wardwell.

When the boys got to Exit 18 they gave up following but not before they got the vehicle’s license plate number, Wardwell said.

They returned to Target and gave the plate number to the police officer, and that eventually led authorities to identify Menard as the suspect, she said.

Wardwell emphasized how grateful she was the boys decided to get involved.

“I couldn’t even believe it,” Wardwell said. “These kids could see something was going wrong and they did the right thing. All these other adults freaking watch me standing there struggling, screaming my head off. And these young boys came and saved the day.

“I was like, ‘You guys, you need to go home. You need to tell your mom, your dad, your friends, your teachers, your cousins. You need to tell them that you just chased a predator and literally got him caught. They are the reason that he was caught.”

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.

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