More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, fiddled with and ultimately raped the woman, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority police chief said at a press conference on Monday.
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Police do not believe that a single witness on the train called 911. They are investigating whether passers-by filmed the assault.
The man and woman boarded the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers removed the man from the woman at the last stop. They responded within three minutes of a 911 call from a transport authority employee, authorities said.
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“What we want is for everyone to be angry and disgusted and determined to make the system safer,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said during the press conference.
Arrest records show that Fiston Ngoy, 35, has been charged with rape and related offenses.
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Ngoy’s arrest affidavit details the hours of the assault, including the fact that during those 40 minutes, the woman appears to push Ngoy repeatedly.
Nestel did not give an approximate number of witnesses and it was not clear from the affidavit how many passengers were present during those 40 minutes. The authorities did not release the surveillance video.
“I can tell you that people were holding their phones towards this woman who was being attacked,” he said.
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Elizabeth Jeglic, professor of psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, researches the prevention of sexual violence. She said if people feel uncomfortable physically intervening, there are other options like calling the police.
“When we have several people, people don’t necessarily step in,” she said. “However, more recent research actually suggests that by looking at video footage of more extreme circumstances, up to 90% of the time we see people intervening. So it was actually an aberration that somebody didn’t come forward to help that person. “
Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt of the Upper Darby Police Department said surveillance footage showed other passengers were on the train and someone “should have done something.” Messages for Bernhardt were left on Monday.
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The New York Times reported that Bernhardt said those who recorded the attack and did not intervene could potentially be charged, but that would be up to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office to determine.
There was no call to 911 in Philadelphia. Nestel said police are still waiting for Delaware County 911, which covers the last two train stops, to determine if they have received any calls.
Investigators said in the affidavit that Ngoy sat next to the woman about a minute after boarding the wagon, shortly after 9:15 p.m. 52h
Bernhardt said officers arrived at the 69th Street terminal on the Market-Frankford line, SEPTA’s busiest route, around 10 p.m.
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A SEPTA employee who was near the train crossing called police to report that “something was wrong” with a woman on the train, Bernhardt said.
The SEPTA police who were waiting at the next stop found the woman and arrested Ngoy, who they had taken from the woman. She was taken to the hospital.
According to court documents, the woman told police that Ngoy ignored her calls to leave.
Ngoy claimed in his statement to police that he knew the victim but did not remember his name and said the meeting was consensual.
Ngoy, who said his last address was a homeless shelter, remained in custody on $ 180,000 bond. His initial court appearance is scheduled for October 25. Court records show he did not ask for a public lawyer on Monday.
SEPTA issued a statement calling it a “horrific criminal act” and urged anyone who witnessed such a thing to report it to authorities by calling 911, pressing an emergency button on every train car or by using the authorities emergency security application.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and he may have been arrested earlier if a passenger called 911,” the authority said.
AP reporter Ted Shaffrey in New York contributed to this report.