A man who owns a distro (distribution store) in Lamongan regency, East Java has been named a suspect for allegedly sexually assaulting at least 16 women at his store.
The suspect, identified as 26-year-old SNR, reportedly sexually harassed his victims under the guise of endorsement and modeling offers. Lamongan Police Chief Harun said yesterday that the case came to light through social media posts from two of his victims, who then proceeded to file a police report against SNR.
Police found the other 14 victims based on that report, one of whom was reportedly underage. Perhaps due to the persistent stigma against sexual assault victims in Indonesia, they had kept silent even after the assault.
The incidents reportedly took place from January to September, most of which occurred in the evening. Harun said that SNR wooed the victims by asking them to model his products or offering them social media endorsement deals, and later persuading them to come to his store for a modeling job. They came to the store individually and at different times, according to the schedule given by SNR.
Once the victims arrived, they were asked to come into the store's fitting room. It was here that SNR assaulted them, as he would hand them the clothes inside the fitting room and touched their private parts under the pretense of checking whether or not the clothes fit them.
"The suspect pressed the clothes to the victim's breasts. When he pressed the clothes to the front side of the victim's bodies, the suspect's 'naughty' hand went to their sensitive parts," Harun said.
To convince the victims that the "job" was genuine, police said SNR took their photos in the fitting room right away. One of the victims told authorities that the suspect almost coerced her to perform oral sex on him.
"The suspect apparently forced a victim by pulling her to the room behind [the store], but he didn't succeed because the victim refused and managed to let go of his grip," Harun said.
SNR told the police that his series of sexual assaults began with an "accidental" inappropriate touching of his first victim as he was dressing her up.
"At that moment I unintentionally touched [the woman's private parts], I couldn't control myself. Since then, I wanted to continue [sexually harassing women]," SNR said.
SNR has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault under Indonesia's Child Protection Law and Criminal Code (KUHP), which could see him imprisoned for up to 15 years.