New Delhi: In a gruesome incident, a woman was raped on a commuter train in suburban Philadelphia while her co-passengers remained mute and held up their phones to seemingly record the assault without intervening. Addressing a presser, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said that more than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman but not single person present on the train dialled 911 (the all-in-one emergency number in the United States).Also Read - Parents Knowingly Send Covid Positive Child To School; Trigger Outbreak
The incident took place on Wednesday night in North Philadelphia when both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop. Also Read - Both Sides Planning For New State-By-State Abortion Fight
“Officers pulled the man off of the woman at the last stop. They responded within about three minutes of a 911 call from a transportation authority employee”, authorities said. “What we want is everyone to be angry and disgusted and to be resolute about making the system safer,” Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference. Also Read - Abortion Rights at Stake in Historic Supreme Court Arguments
Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses. Calling it a “horrendous criminal act”, SEPTA in a statement urged anyone witnessing such a thing to report it to authorities by calling 911, pressing an emergency button on every train car or using the authorities emergency safety app.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” the authority said.
Meanwhile, the affidavit of arrest for Ngoy detailed times of the assault, including that during those 40 minutes the woman appears to repeatedly push Ngoy away.
Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt, of the Upper Darby Police Department, has said surveillance footage showed other riders were on the train and someone “should have done something.”
The New York Times reported that Bernhardt said that people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged, but that would be up to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office to determine.
There were no calls made to 911 in Philadelphia. Nestel said police were still waiting for Delaware County 911, which covers the last two train stops, to determine if it received any calls.
Officials said in the affidavit that Ngoy sat down next to the woman about a minute after he boarded the train car, shortly after 9:15 p.m. The video shows her pushing him away multiple times until he is seen ripping her pants down at about 9:52 p.m.
Bernhardt said officers arrived at the 69th Street terminal on the Market-Frankford Line, the busiest route on SEPTA, around 10 p.m.
A SEPTA employee who was in the vicinity as the train went past called police to report that “something wasn’t right” with a woman aboard the train, Bernhardt said.
SEPTA police waiting at the next stop found the woman and arrested Ngoy, who they had pulled off of the woman. She was taken to a hospital. According to the court documents, the woman told police that Ngoy ignored her pleas to go away.
Ngoy, on the other hand, claimed in his statement to police that he knew the victim, but couldn’t remember her name and said the encounter was consensual. Ngoy, who listed his last address as a homeless shelter, remained in custody on $180,000 bail. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 25.
(With inputs from AP)