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A man has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman on a train while no one intervened

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.

A man has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman on a train while no one intervened
Image Source: Hurricane Sandy Bears Down On U.S. Mid-Atlantic Coastline. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 29. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

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.


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.


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."


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.


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."


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