WILKES-BARRE — City police arrested a Wilkes-Barre man in connection with an alleged attack on an employee at the Osterhout Free Library on South Franklin Street Thursday afternoon.
“I apologize,” Leon Crosby, 26, of Davis Place, said as he was being led away from his arraignment before District Judge Diana Malast. He faces charges of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and simple assault.
He mumbled delayed responses to Malast’s questions and sat in silence as she read the criminal complaint. Crosby told Malast he was unemployed and had been arrested before for cocaine possession.
He was apprehended at the intersection of Northampton and South Main streets, about a block away from the library, following the noontime incident.
According to a police affidavit, the alleged victim said she was putting books on a shelf when Crosby approached her around noon asking questions about books. She directed him to the front of the library to find answers, the affidavit said, but Crosby remained in the aisle and asked her about mystery books and she again directed him to the front.
Crosby then passed her, the report said, knelt down and pulled the woman to the ground, where he sexually assaulted her. The woman said she scratched the suspect and screamed, attracting the attention of co-workers, at which time Crosby fled the scene, the affidavit reads.
A responding officer found the woman on the floor of an aisle in the back of the library, according to court papers, and she and several witnesses provided the same description of the suspect.
Two men who were in the library said they stay at a local shelter with Crosby and heard a commotion in the rear of the library.
“I just heard yelling,” said one man, who asked not to be identified.
The man said he was using a computer in one section of the building and saw the suspect leave.
“He walked past us like nothing happened,” the man said.
He added that the suspect left behind a do-rag.
A police officer later left with a plastic evidence bag.
Another visitor, who also asked not to be identified, said he heard what he thought was a fight. The man said he heard a male voice yell, “What the hell are you doing?”
The library remained open while police and city paramedics were inside. It closed at approximately 1:10 p.m.
Information on the woman’s condition was not available Thursday afternoon.
Richard C. Miller, executive director of the library, said he was made aware of the assault while he was away and has been in contact with authorities and the library staff.
Miller issued the following statement: “We take the safety of our staff and public very seriously and our thoughts go out to our employee involved in the assault. The library is constantly working to review and improve the security of the library and sharing our concerns with local authorities. Today’s events will not undermine our efforts to serve the public and protect our employees. Any person that threatens the safety of our staff and/or patrons will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We thank the Wilkes-Barre police department for their assistance and quick response in this unfortunate situation.”
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug 5 before District Judge Rick Cronauer. Crosby is being held in lieu $100,000 bail.