Man offering ‘free hugs’ in Times Square arrested after punching Canadian tourist: NYPD

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TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan -- A 22-year-old Canadian tourist was punched in the face Thursday by a man offering "free hugs" in Times Square when she allegedly refused to tip him, according to the NYPD.

The incident happened around noon in the area of West 46th Street.

Police say the woman, from Ottawa, Canada, took a photo with 24-year-old Jermaine Himmelstein, who was holding a sign that read "Free Hugs." The man then demanded three times that she pay him, but she refused to do so each time.

After the third refusal, police say Himmelstein slugged her in the face.

The unidentified woman was taken to an area Roosevelt Hospital in stable condition. Police say she suffered a black eye, bruising and severe swelling to her face.

Himmelstein, who has autism, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon and charged with assault.

As Himmelstein was being led away by police, he admitted to PIX11, "I was aggressively asking for tips."

Police said the suspect is no stranger to this type of activity and has multiple prior arrests, some of which were also for assault.

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