Times Square ‘Free Hugs’ Guy Punches Canadian Tourist

Open Jaw

It’s said there’s no free lunch. Maybe there are no free hugs either. A man promising ‘free hugs’ in NYC’s Times Square is accused of punching a female Canadian tourist in the face when she refused to give him a tip.

Jermaine Himmelstein, known as the “free hugs guy,” is one of numerous characters, many of them costumed, some wearing little more than body paint, who frequent Times Square. He customarily carries a cardboard sign offering free hugs.

Police said that Himmelstein photo-bombed a picture that 22 yr. old Canadian tourist Sophie Violene Dauvois was taking, hugged her and then demanded $5 for the ‘service.’

When Dauvois wouldn’t hand over the cash, Himmelstein punched her in the face, CBS reported.

The hugging bandit faces charges of attempted robbery and fraudulent accosting. And it is far from the 1st time.

The New York Daily News quoted city Police Chief James O’Neill saying Himmelstein has been arrested 16 times since 2012 in various New York venues, once for throwing a soft drink can at a woman who refused to hug him.

New York City Council is pressing for new laws to put Times Square characters seeking tips into special zones and forcing them to wear ID badges.

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