The answer to that question is at least six years and counting. Back in 2017, DNAInfo published a story about then 25-year-old Christopher Boissard. Even then, Boissard was known as a serial groper who’d been arrested dozens of times.
An accused serial groper who has attacked and stalked a neighborhood mom continues to target other local woman — seemingly undeterred by restraining orders against him, police and his victims said.
Christopher Boissard, 25 — a deaf man who’s been arrested more than 30 times on various low-level charges — has three pending groping cases against him and a conviction for attacking and harassing his own father, court records show…
Greenpoint mom Shannon Clare, 43, who has lived in the neighborhood for six years, has been a frequent target of Boissard’s unwelcome attention.
He first attacked and groped her on Jan. 23 near the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Freeman Street, she said.
“I was coming from a [school] meeting, going to buy snacks for my 3-year-old,” Clare said. “I saw this man look at me with this s–t-eating grin on his face. The next thing I know he slammed me and grabbed me and held me, and rubbed his hands all over my chest.”
He was arrested and a protection order was put in place but he got out on bail. The next day he was stalking Clare again. She called police and again Boissard was arrested. This time prosecutors asked for $50,000 bail but a judge decided to release him on his own recognizance. Days later he was outside Clare’s building shouting. The same day he had sexually assaulted another woman at random. He was facing 3 charges involving 3 different women in 5 months.
Now jump forward to 2021 and Boissard’s behavior has not improved but police have given up doing anything, even when he punches random women in the face.
Within the past few weeks, Boissard has been accused of randomly punching a woman in the face in a bodega on the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Freeman Street. According to a Nextdoor user, the victim was in the bodega when all of a sudden “a man approached her without saying anything and punched her in the face” after which Boissard allegedly ran away. He was chased by the woman’s boyfriend, though “he escaped inside his apartment.”
“They called the police and when they arrived and after relating the story to them, the police said that they knew the man and he had done this at least 2 other times against different women,” the account continues, “They also mentioned that he had been diagnosed with a mental condition, and because of that and the fact that he ran to his apartment, they couldn’t do anything about it.”
Jump forward again to January of this year and we were told that local officials finally had a plan to deal with Boissard. City councilmember Lincoln Restler, who is a big proponent of criminal justice reform, hosted a meeting about it.
Restler mentioned that Boissard has been arrested 61 times over the last decade, though often, the assaults he commits (such as punching) aren’t always an arrestable offense.
According to Restler, Boissard was recently accepted into mental health court, an alternative to incarceration, meaning he will be referred to services, which he is required to accept, or else he risks returning to jail.
And finally, jump forward to last month when Gothamist published a story titled “In Greenpoint, a man with severe mental illness is harming neighbors. No one knows what to do.”
According to city officials, the man has gone to jail and psychiatric hospitals dozens of times. He has started and stopped treatment for alcoholism, according to court papers. He’s also deaf. And he and his mother say that, like half of the people in city jails, he has mental illness…
Interviews with more than a dozen people who live and work in the neighborhood reveal that assaults perpetrated both by and against the man have forced some in the neighborhood to interrogate their beliefs about the criminal justice and mental health systems. Greenpointers face a difficult question: when someone with serious mental illness poses a threat, what’s the best way to keep both the person and the community safe?
“People often say, ‘It’s only going to end when either he kills someone or he himself gets killed,’” Emma Davey, editor of the local publication Greenpointers, said in May. “There’s kind of this feeling out there that, you know, the situation is about to come to a breaking point.”
A victim’s advocate who has been in contact with many of the people harmed by Boissard said there’s no useful advice given to residents except to try to avoid Boissard. “I mean, is the option to move?” she asked.
Maybe that is the only option because it’s pretty clear no one in New York is going to do anything. The system is set up to give people options, not to force them to take those options. If Boissard wants to live life on the street as a drunk who occasionally punches or sexually assaults women, there isn’t much the system can do. The situation will just continue until he seriously injures someone or until he is seriously injured.
To be clear, I don’t think the solution here is vigilante violence. Beating up Boissard won’t make him any less likely to lash out at random people and it might make him even worse. But I do think by doing nothing the city is risking that sort of street violence. After six years of this it’s pretty clear the people who should be handling this problem aren’t up to it.