Man offering free hugs attacks another woman in Union Square

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UNION SQUARE, Manhattan — The "free hugs" man with a history of harassing women is in custody again for attacking a woman in Union Square.

The victim, who told her story exclusively to PIX11, said Jermaine Himmelstein  attacked her when she refused to hug him.

She said she was out with her mother and friends taking photos when he approached her multiple times.

"I did not expect for this guy to attack us," she said. "From behind he runs and hits me right in the face with an open palm and just knocks off my glasses ... and then runs off," she said.

Himmelstein was arrested in 2016 for attacking a Canadian tourist in the eye after she refused to tip him in Times Square. Police say she suffered a black eye, bruising and severe swelling to her face.

His parents claims he has autism and prosecutors found him mentally unfit to stand trial in the Times Square case so the charges were dropped.

His latest victim, however, told PIX11 she's determined to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"It seems to me that he keeps doing it and getting away with it," she said. "And it's scary because women shouldn't be afraid to walk in their own city."

Himmelstein was taken into custody Saturday and booked on assault charges.

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