US train riders ‘held up phones as woman was raped’, could face charges

01:45 AM | 20 Oct, 2021
US train riders ‘held up phones as woman was raped’, could face charges

PHILADELPHIA — A man charged with raping a woman on a commuter train just outside Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while multiple people held up their phones to record the assault without intervening, the authorities said.

More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said at a news conference.

Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.

Both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. 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,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference.

Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses.

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.

Nestel would not give an approximate number of witnesses and it was unclear from the affidavit how many passengers were present for those 40 minutes. Authorities have not released the surveillance video.

“I can tell you that people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked,” he said.

Passengers Who Recorded The Incident Could Face Charges

Passengers who recorded the alleged incident of sexual assault but did not intervene or call authorities could face charges, though local prosecutors cast doubt on the idea Tuesday.

"It would be up to the Delaware County district attorney’s office to make such a decision after the police finish their investigation and submit their findings," Upper Darby Township Police Department Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said in a press conference.

Bernhardt said that the bystander footage he reviewed showed that the passengers had an opportunity to intervene for 40 minutes while the victim was allegedly assaulted by the suspect, 35-year-old Fiston Ngoy.

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