The suspect is currently in police custody. His hearing has been scheduled for next Monday, while investigators survey why fellow passengers chose not to act.
Trigger Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault
Last week, a man riding the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) Market-Frankford Line allegedly sexually assaulted a fellow passenger. According to officials, a number of witnesses failed to stop the incident or call the police. In a statement, SEPTA condemned the incident as a "horrendous criminal act." The issue came to the transport authority's notice when a SETPA employee in the vicinity of the incident as the train went past alerted the police. SEPTA has since called on passengers to act and inform the appropriate authorities if they observe a crime being committed or any dangerous situation occurring, CNN reports.
Train riders failed to intervene when a woman was sexually assaulted onboard @SEPTA last week. The transit agency is adamant that passengers need to speak up when they see something isn’t right. @6abc pic.twitter.com/eQsgJ9K4Pr— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) October 18, 2021
As per SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch, the employee who spotted the train as it went past called police to report that "something wasn't right." He shared in a statement, "The SEPTA employee boarded the train and saw the assault in progress and immediately called 911. That prompted an immediate response by SEPTA Transit Police, and an officer boarded the train when it arrived at the 69th Street Transportation Center. The officer located the suspect and the victim, and took the suspect into custody." The suspect has been identified as Fiston M. Ngoy, aged 35. Court documents reveal that he had a preliminary arraignment last Thursday on charges of rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, and more. At present, Ngoy is being held at Delaware County Prison on 10 percent of his bail amount, set at $180,000. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for next Monday.
BOOKING PHOTO of Philadelphia man charged with raping @septa passenger on SEPTA Market Frankford Line train 9:30pm last night. Fiston Ngoy, 33 Multiple Law Enforcement Sources say passengers on surveillance video recording rape instead of helping or calling 911 @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/gKmuhRkpNy— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) October 15, 2021
In response to the incident, police officials stated that witnesses on board the train should have either called the police or intervened themselves. "Anybody that was on that train has to look in the mirror and ask why they didn't intervene or why they didn't do something," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt in an interview with CNN on Monday. "Collectively, they could have gotten together and done something." He also shared details about the survivor of the assault, who did not personally know the perpetrator. Bernhardt noted, "She came forward, she provided a lot of information. She's on the mend, and hopefully she will get through this."
The horrific rape on moving @septa train we first reported the next day on Thursday has now become a national shame as the world now reads the shocking details that witnesses watched & even recorded the attack instead or helping victim or even calling to report it @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/if0zx3HE9V— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) October 17, 2021
SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards informed reporters earlier this week that the employee who reported the incident acted quickly and "probably didn't know exactly what they were seeing." Even though passengers on the train had phones in their hands, there were "very few" notifications to police about the incident, SEPTA police chief Thomas Nestel III revealed. When asked if passengers had recorded the incident on their phones and posted video on social media platforms, he responded, "I can tell you people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked." Those who videotaped the incident could potentially be subject to a crime. The alleged crime was nonetheless captured on video surveillance. Investigators plan to go analyze the footage in order to understand the incident as well as what other SEPTA riders were doing.
UPDATE: People video recorded rape on moving @SEPTA train, Market-Frankford Elevated Line last night. It was a Septa employee who boarded&called 911 many blocks/stop before police met at 69th Transportation Center&stopped attack victim“in shock clothes ripped off” @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/9gQBkLsfge— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) October 15, 2021
Criminologist and sociology professor at the University of Miami Alex Piquero offered several explanations as to why passengers may not have intervened. "Some people may have been concerned about retaliation, some people may have been concerned about being harmed themselves, and some people may have thought that someone else is going to intervene," he said. "All three of those, in my view, are unacceptable. We live in a world where everything is captured on videotape, and sometimes that can be useful for police in their investigations. But when a woman is being assaulted and nobody is doing anything, it really worries me."
A woman was raped ON A TRAIN in Philly and all of the people just watched. Someone also recorded it and posted it online. A SEPTA employee saw it called 911 but NOT ONE single person on the train intervened. I don’t wanna hear shit else about women not being careful.— Candy Corn Bandit (@tarynsinterlude) October 16, 2021