Girl groped by stranger on Telegraph Avenue; transient arrested

Police arrested a 67-year-old man after a sexual assault report on Telegraph Avenue on Thursday. Photo: Ted Friedman

A 67-year-old man identified by Berkeley police as transient was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault Thursday evening on Telegraph Avenue, authorities report.

Police said witnesses and family members of a girl who was groped helped police detain the man at about 5:15 p.m.

Local photographer Ted Friedman said a mother and daughter were on Telegraph when a stranger suddenly groped the girl. Said Friedman, the mother “quickly called police who swarmed the scene, then pursued and apprehended the suspect” outside the UC Berkeley student union.

Acting Lt. Katie Smith said Michael McKenna was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and drug possession. He’s being held in connection with lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, a felony with a bail of $105,000, as well as drug violations.


Smith said the incident happened at Telegraph and Durant avenues. The girl was waiting with family members to cross the street when a stranger “touched her inappropriately from behind.”

Smith said witnesses and the girl’s family “actively participated in the detention and identification” of McKenna, who is originally from Pennsylvania but has no permanent local address.

Police said witnesses and family members of the victim helped police catch the groper. Photo: Ted Friedman

“We are grateful for the community’s participation,” she said.

McKenna, also known as Michael DeeFreeman, is scheduled for arraignment Monday at 9 a.m., according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.

According to online records from the Alameda County district attorney’s office, McKenna was extradited from California in 2000 due to a case in another state. No information about that case was immediately available.


A number of sexual assaults have taken place near campus in the Southside neighborhood around Telegraph Avenue in recent months.

Two weeks ago, a man police say grabbed a teenager’s buttocks, then hit her in the face after she took his photograph, was arrested by authorities.

Earlier in May, police arrested a 60-year-old parolee and out-of-compliance sex offender after they say he kidnapped and tried to sexually assault a young woman he picked up near campus. He may have been posing as a ride-sharing driver, authorities said.

And, in February, a 23-year-old man was charged with three felonies after police said he sexually assaulted a woman right outside a Telegraph Avenue bar.