Police in Cologne are searching for a suspect who groped RTBF reporter Esmeralda Labye during a live broadcast of Carnival celebrations.
"As I was waiting to wrap up my live, one of the three men touched my breast,” Labye said. “At that moment, I lost my temper. I turned and told them in English: 'I won't allow this to happen twice! Don't touch me. Don't touch me.'"
The assault follows a wave of chaos during New Year’s Eve celebrations when hundreds of sexual assaults were reported. Most of these were linked to Muslim refugees of Arab or North African descent.
According to Labye, however, the man who groped her was of European descent.
Carnival is celebrated in the Catholic tradition as a time to enjoy pleasures before restraining them for a period called Lent. This time reflects the fasting of Jesus Christ in the dessert.
"With the rise in alcohol consumption, the potential for aggression unfortunately also rose in the evening," police said. "Police forces on duty had to step in more and more to prevent escalation."
Police arrested at least 190 people on Thursday and received more than 220 criminal complaints. At least 18 of these were sexual in nature ranging from sexual insult to a possible attempted rape.