October 19 (Reuters) – The rape of a woman aboard a Philadelphia subway witnessed by up to 10 passengers, some of whom appeared to be filming the attack, could have been stopped quickly if the 911, police said on Tuesday.
The woman was raped shortly after 9 p.m. Oct. 13 on a train run by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which provides public transportation in Philadelphia, said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III.
âIn fact, up to 10 people saw part of the attack on this runner,â Nestel said on Philadelphia radio station WPHT.
Describing the police review of the surveillance video, Nestel said: âWe were looking to see if someone put a phone to his ear indicating that he could call 911. Instead, we saw people hold their phones as if they are recording or taking pictures. “
“It may have been stopped earlier if a biker called 911,” SEPTA spokesman John Golden said in a statement, referring to the US emergency services phone number.
SEPTA and the Upper Darby Police Department, which are investigating the incident, did not immediately confirm further details of the incident reported by local media.
Surveillance video from the train car showed the woman attempted to push her assailant away, repeatedly pushing him away as he initially groped her and ultimately sexually assaulted her, local media reported.
A person finally alerted 911. It was this call from a SEPTA employee on leave that quickly got the public transport police up, allowing them to stop the assault and arrest the alleged rapist, SEPTA police said.
“He was on top of our victim and committed the assault when they entered the train,” Nestel said.
Women’s rights activists have said passers-by’s failure to call 911 was “despicable” and disturbing.
“My biggest fear about this is twofold: one is that people would not care and the other is that they thought it could have been consensual sexual activity, and that’s what the rape, âsaid Carol Tracy, executive. director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia.
Fiston Ngoy, 35, faces charges of rape, involuntary deviant sex, sexual assault and other offenses, local media reported. Ngoy, who listed his address as a homeless shelter in Philadelphia, was held on $ 18,000 bail and was due to be heard in court on October 25, local media reported.
Ngoy claims the meeting was consensual, but the woman denies it, local media reported.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Giles Elgood and Cynthia Osterman
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