A string of NYC assaults on women has sparked a flood of online conspiracy theories

A string of reported attacks on New York City women has reached viral status on TikTok, prompting some online conspiracy theories. But police haven’t publicly dispelled the speculation or said the attacks were connected.

“You guys, I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” an alleged victim who identified herself as Halley Kate said in a now-viral TikTok video on Monday. “Oh my God, it hurts so bad. I can’t even talk.”

At least six women, including prominent reality TV star Bethenny Frankel of the “Real Housewives of New York City,” have recounted similar events to police and on TikTok. The women were all walking in broad daylight in Manhattan with their phones in their hands when they said they were randomly assaulted by a strange man.

Police said on Thursday that the first attack appears to have occurred on March 17 at 75 Kenmare St. when a 25-year-old woman was walking her dog and a man punched her in the head before apologizing.

Then, on March 25, a 36-year-old woman was crossing at Rivington and Chrystie streets when a man ran up behind her and punched her in the back, according to police. She refused medical attention and police said she was too shaken to give a description of the suspect.

That same day, at 10:20 a.m., a 23-year-old woman was looking down at her phone outside 116 Seventh Ave. when police said a man walking a medium-sized black-and-white dog hit her in the face. She did not know if she was elbowed or punched and fell to the ground, according to NYPD officials. She also refused medical care, but later took herself to urgent care.

In a third incident that day, a 27-year-old woman was walking on Fifth Avenue when she was punched in the face, officials said, noting she didn’t report the assault until two days later.

And on March 26 around noon, a man hit a 24-year-old woman with his elbow on the left side of her head, according to the NYPD.

Another 24-year-old woman was walking on Sixth Avenue that same day, when police said a man punched her in the head. She refused medical attention.

NYPD officials said most of the women were white and one was Hispanic. On Thursday, police arrested Skiboky Stora, 40, in connection with one of the incidents and charged him with misdemeanor assault. Officials said they were uncertain if he had a role in the other reported attacks. An attorney for Stora could not immediately be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, speculation is running rampant on social media, including concerns that the assaults were part of a movement to instill fear among women.

“To me, it sounds like they did that on purpose,” a woman who identified herself as Jessica Roth said in a TikTok that has received more than 2,500 views. “It sounds like they wanted to target as many women as they could and let them know, ‘You are not safe. You are not safe in this city.’”

Roth and other users on the app referenced the increasing popularity of South Korea’s B4 movement, where some women are refusing to engage in marriage, child rearing, or dating and sex with men to live more autonomously. The movement is already having political ramifications — and fueling backlash that some observers speculate is traveling elsewhere.

Yet others have speculated, without evidence, that the assaults were orchestrated by politicians who want to stoke concerns over public safety during an election year.

“I really do hate Eric Adams and the police, and I would not put it past them honestly,” one user said in a TikTok video. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were paying off dudes to just punch white women in the face in the NYU district to rationalize increasing police.”

The attacks were not confined to NYU’s various campuses around the city.

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