boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Police eyeing path of alleged foot-fetishist

Yoga studio incident spurs investigation

CAMBRIDGE -- Yoga instructor Annie Carter, 27, showed the stranger who complained of foot pain a few stretches when he wandered into her studio last Friday afternoon. But after he snatched her sock off, focused his cellphone camera on her toes, and tried to hug and kiss her neck, she shoved him out the door.

Police arrived at the Dahn Yoga & Healing studio in time to question the 28-year-old Watertown man last Friday afternoon. They found 21 snapshots of what appear to be female feet on his cellphone, according to the police report.

Police are now investigating whether the suspect with an apparent fetish for fondling and photographing female feet is responsible for a series of strange incidents in the area of Harvard and Central Square. They would not release his name yesterday.

"We're not sure if it's even borderline assault," said Frank Pasquarello, a spokesman for Cambridge police. "We're still investigating it."

He said the man might be summoned for further questioning.

Before he entered the yoga studio, the man was spotted on Massachusetts Avenue by a 41-year-old Roslindale woman who said she had been a victim of the foot-fondler while working at a lamp shop in April. She followed the man to the yoga store and called police, who arrived in time to question him.

In the April incident, the woman said a man wandered into Neena's Lighting on John F. Kennedy Street asking for a "foot light." He took off his shoe and pointed to his foot. When she did the same, he began to massage her foot, a police report said. He made a sexual remark and then moved toward her, according to the police report.

Mika Nakafuji, an employee at Neena's Lighting, said she was not present during the incident but believed the alleged actions were "creepy."

"Talk about a foot fetish," said Nakafuji, of Brookline. "He must have been a good sweet-talker if he got her to take off her shoes."

"Who does that kind of thing?" she added.

Investigators are also examining whether the man is the same individual responsible for an assault on a woman in the Central Square area in June. A woman reported that the man, who matches the description of the man involved in the foot-fondling incidents, gave her a "weak bear hug" and tried to push her down the street.

Carter said that employees at an Arlington branch of Dahn Yoga & Healing recently had a similar experience with what appeared to be the same man. Arlington police said yesterday that they were not aware of the confrontation.

In the incident last Friday, Carter said that that the man did not appear to be dangerous, though she said he smelled of alcohol and was difficult to understand. "The creepiest thing would be if he found someone who is really young or alone," she said. "Then I'd worry."

Javier Hernandez can be reached at jhernandez@globe.com.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES