Man arrested, charged after reports of harassment

PHOTO: Melissa Mitman

A man has been arrested and charged after dozens of women came forward on social media accusing him of harassment and stalking.

Steve Ditty, 32, is facing three counts of felony stalking and multiple counts of harassment and simple assault, prosecutors said Wednesday afternoon.

When officers apprehended him Tuesday afternoon, he was on probation after serving time for a similar offense. 

The District Attorney’s Office said it plans to ask that Ditty’s bail be set at $999,999 so he remains behind bars as investigators continue to look into other incidents. 

It was unclear if Ditty had secured legal counsel Wednesday evening. 

Metro first reported Ditty’s alleged behavior, most of which occurred in Center City and Old City, Tuesday, after an Instagram post warning women about him went viral.

Scores of women left comments on the post, alleging they had recently been victims of the man’s harassment, lewd comments, stalking and uncomfortable behavior. Some said he tried to touch them, and a few claimed he had broken into their house.

Prosecutors said one of the victims, who had been targeted twice by Ditty, came forward after seeing accounts from other women on social media.

SOURCE: Instagram

On Nov. 12, he approached her at 9th and South streets and tried to start a conversation, according to the DA’s Office. He followed her as she jogged away and tried to grab her, investigators said.

Eleven days later, she encountered him near 3rd and Arch streets, and he used “detailed language regarding her body,” the DA’s Office said.

In the other incident for which Ditty is charged, he allegedly followed a woman, made unwanted physical contact and refused to leave her alone after asking to use her phone Nov. 14.

“Women and all people deserve the freedom and comfort of being able to move about in public spaces without fear for their safety,” said Branwen McNabb, who supervises the DA’s family violence and sexual assault unit, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, so-called street harassment of women and girls is all too common,” she added.

Additional charges are possible as investigators continue to gather evidence.

Officer Joseph Ferrero, of Center City’s 6th District, has been fielding reports, and, as of Wednesday afternoon, he had received more than 70 emails.

Some were from people who personally interacted with Ditty, and others were from witnesses, he said.

Court records indicate Ditty has previously pleaded guilty to stalking, harassment, trespassing, burglary and theft.

In response to the stories about Ditty, an Instagram account, watchoutphilly, was created to share information about him and others who harass women around the city.

Anyone who was targeted by the Ditty can call the PPD tip line at 215-686-8477.

More from our Sister Sites