Several passengers on a moving train in Pennsylvania saw a man sexually assaulting a woman last week but did not intervene, officials said. The man is now facing criminal charges for rape and assault.
The attack took place around 11pm on 13 October when the woman was riding a train to Upper Darby town on the Market Frankford line of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Septa).
The man, identified as 35-year-old Fiston Ngoy, sat next to the woman and tried to start a conversation with her. Over the next few minutes, Mr Ngoy was seen getting aggressive and harassing her.
When she kept rejecting his advances, Mr Ngoy ripped her clothes off, Septa spokesperson Andrew Busch said, according to NBC News. The assault, recorded on the train’s surveillance cameras, went on for eight minutes.
Several people present on the train did not act or intervene by calling 911.
The surveillance video showed enough evidence to charge Mr Ngoy with rape and assault, Timothy Bernhardt, police superintendent at Upper Darby, said.
The silence on display by other passengers on the train was disturbing, Mr Bernhardt said. “I’m shocked, I have no words for it. I just can’t imagine seeing what you were seeing through your own eyes and seeing what this woman was going through that no one would step in and help her,” Mr Bernhardt said.
Though there weren’t “dozens of people”, there were enough that “collectively, they could have gotten together and done something”, he added.
A Septa employee who saw the attack was the first to report it by calling 911.
“The assault was observed by a Septa employee, who called 911, enabling Septa officers to respond immediately and apprehend the suspect in the act,” Mr Busch said in a statement.
Officials are studying the videos to identify those present in the train car and interview possible witnesses, he said.
The attack may have been stopped sooner if a rider had called 911, Mr Busch said. “Septa urges anyone who observes a crime being committed or any dangerous situation occurring to report it. Anyone witnessing an emergency should immediately call 911,” he added.
The woman was taken to a hospital and was treated for her injuries after the assault.