Frank Alex Bouknight masturbates in custody, police say

Frank Bouknight. (Photo: Arlington County police)

A disturbing sex crime inside a popular grocery store has some Arlington residents on edge.

Police say a shopper inside the Clarendon Whole Foods was groped Sunday afternoon.

The victim reached down for a wine bottle when she says a man slid his hands under her skirt and touched her. According to police, the suspect left the store laughing.

"It makes me really nervous. It was a really bold thing for him to do in the middle of the day," Whole Foods shopper Amy Maclosky said.

Investigators say the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Frank Alex Bouknight of Washington, D.C., was arrested four hours later. He was found sleeping on a park bench with pornographic magazines in his possession.

Bouknight is charged with sexual battery.

Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck says Bouknight's odd behavior continued at police headquarters.

"He was taken into the police interview room, and he was witnessed masturbating repeatedly," Sternbeck said.

This case is the latest in a string of summer sex crimes.

Earlier this month, a teenage girl discovered a man peeping over her bathroom stall inside a Ballston restaurant. Before that several men were spotted exposing themselves in public places.

While recent reports may seem to indicate an uptick in crimes of this sort, police say they're pretty consistent with years past.

As of July 2012, there have been 26 indecent exposures and 46 sexual assaults. Last year, there were 51 and 90, respectively.

"We're very aware of these incidents and police do maintain a presence out there on the streets whether they're in plain clothes or in uniform," Sternbeck said.

Police say the key to catching the bad guys is people calling in the crimes. They say often they go unreported and may escalate from a flashing case to a sexual assault.

Residents are advised to travel in pairs to stay safe. Police also suggest keeping a phone on you at all times and trusting your gut.

Bouknight is being held without bond.