Woman assaulted while doing laundry

Anthony Harper was charged with sexual misconduct and trespassing.

Police arrested a Columbia man on charges of sexually assaulting a 33-year-old woman at a laundromat.

The suspect, identified as 44-year-old Anthony Harper, entered Robinson’s Cleaners on Conley Road at about 1:20 a.m. Nov. 30, Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Jill Wieneke said.

The victim reported Harper was seated at a table near her while she was doing her laundry. As she reached into the machine, he lunged at her and grabbed her breast.

The victim said she slapped Harper’s hand away, yelled at him and then went outside and called police, the report stated.

When CPD officers arrived on the scene, they found Harper lying on the floor of the laundromat. Officers noted that he smelled strongly of alcohol, Wieneke said.

“He was obviously very intoxicated,” she said.

CPD handcuffed Harper and took him into custody without incident.

Wieneke said she believes this type of assault is uncommon because the suspect was a stranger to the victim.

“As a general rule, sexual assaults occur when the suspect is known by the victim,” Wieneke said. “We don’t have very many sexual assault cases in Columbia -- or probably the nation -- that are stranger based. In this case it was a little bit different because the victim didn’t know the person. She was just doing her laundry.”

The police report stated Harper has trespassed in the laundromat on a prior occasion and was arrested on charges of trespassing as well as first-degree sexual misconduct.

He remains in the Boone County Jail with a bond of $1,000.

Wieneke advises people to take caution when going out alone at night.

“I would suggest maybe not going places that late at night, and using the buddy system,” she said. “The victim did the right thing by calling the police and was willing to pull through with the prosecution. That’s a good thing in getting through this.”

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