NORRISTOWN — A Connecticut dentist accused of groping female clerks while shopping at stores in Limerick and King of Prussia is a wanted man after failing to appear at a court hearing.
Vasanth Raj Dharmaraj, 35, most recently of Meriden, was a no-show in Montgomery County Court on June 17 where he was supposed to address stalking, indecent assault, disorderly conduct and harassment-related charges in connection with alleged incidents that occurred at stores at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick and the King of Prussia Mall in Upper Merion between March and November 2011.
Judge William R. Carpenter issued a warrant for Dharmaraj’s arrest, at the request of Assistant District Attorney Jordan Friter, for failing to appear in court for what was listed as a potential guilty plea hearing.
“He didn’t show up and we’ve been unable to locate his whereabouts,” said Friter, indicating police and sheriff’s officials can now search for Dharmaraj and take him into custody. “He’s wanted now.”
Dharmaraj, who was free on $25,000 unsecured bail while awaiting trial on the charges, reportedly was an itinerant dentist who once lived in the Philadelphia region and practiced dentistry in a variety of Pennsylvania cities and towns including Philadelphia, Gilbertsville, Phoenixville, York, Reading, Harrisburg and Temple, according to authorities. At the time of his arrest, he lived in Connecticut.
“Everyone is out looking for you so you’d better show up or come in here in handcuffs,” said Friter, issuing a warning to Dharmaraj.
Dharmaraj, reportedly a citizen of India who was legally residing and working in the U.S., is described as being 6-feet 3-inches tall, weighing 220 pounds and having black hair.
Defense lawyer Stephen Geday indicated to the judge that Dharmaraj was aware he was to be in court Tuesday morning.
“He did know he was supposed to be here. As far as why he’s not here I couldn’t even begin to guess. There’s any number of possibilities and I’d only be guessing. But obviously, the commonwealth’s bench warrant is the appropriate procedural remedy in light of the situation,” Geday said.
An investigation of Dharmaraj began in March 2011 when Limerick police received a report that Dharmaraj had inappropriate contact with a teenage girl who was working at Joe’s Jeans at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets. Under the guise of looking for clothes for his sister, Dharmaraj told the clerk she was similar in size to his sister and asked her to put on a vest for him, according to the criminal complaint.
Dharmaraj, whose requests for the girl to go to a fitting room with him were rebuffed by the clerk, touched the vest and then touched the girl’s breasts. When the girl told Dharmaraj he could not touch her, he left the store. However, Dharmaraj returned to the store later the same day and asked the girl if she would help him shop for his sister after her work day was over.
When the girl refused, Dharmaraj left the store again. But after her shift, the girl noticed a blue sport utility vehicle, occupied only by Dharmaraj, in the parking lot of the outlets, court documents indicate. Dharmaraj allegedly followed the girl in her vehicle and she stopped and re-entered the shopping area, according to police.
“(The victim) waited approximately two hours before returning to her car. (The victim) had someone walk out to her car with her. When she did, Dharmaraj was sitting in his now parked car which was directly across from her car,” Limerick Detective Matthew Daywalt wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Dharmaraj left the area when security officials were notified. However, authorities were able to identify Dharmaraj through the registration of his vehicle.
The girl told police she “felt violated” when Dharmaraj touched her breast and that she was “scared and nervous” when Dharmaraj followed her vehicle. The girl told authorities she believed he might “drag me into his car and drive off,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Upper Merion police charged Dharmaraj with similar alleged incidents at the King of Prussia mall.
Dharmaraj allegedly was in the Bloomingdales store on Oct. 4, 2011, when he asked a saleswoman to help him select an outfit for his girlfriend who was about her size. The sales clerk reportedly tried on a vest, and when she was taking it off, Dharmaraj allegedly cupped her breast with his hand, which she believed was an accident.
However, while the woman tried on a larger vest, Dharmaraj allegedly cupped both her breasts, and she confronted him about his conduct, according to authorities.
A month later, Dharmaraj was in the Gap store at the mall and asked a female clerk there to help him pick out clothes for his 5-year-old daughter, and each time he held an article of clothing up to her body, he allegedly touched her breast.
When the woman turned her back on him while showing him winter coats, Dharmaraj reportedly pressed his groin into her buttocks, and she retreated into a back room, according to the arrest affidavit filed by Upper Merion Police Officer Brandy Faherty.
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews