Passengers on a Philadelphia area train not intervening while witnessing a woman’s rape on Wednesday “speaks to where we are in society,” said a police superintendent on Friday.
The assault occurred on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train in Upper Darby Township, a Philadelphia suburb. Surveillance video showed several other people on the train during the incident, township Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt told the Associated Press on Friday.
Bernhardt said that other passengers should have done something.
“There was a lot of people, in my opinion, that should have intervened. Somebody should have done something,” Bernhardt said. “It speaks to where we are in society; I mean, who would allow something like that to take place? So it’s troubling.”
The assault allegedly went on for eight minutes, and people may have been recording video of the situation, police told local station WPVI-TV.
Bernhardt said the victim, now on the mend in a hospital, is an “unbelievably strong woman” who was able to provide police with a lot of information.
The alleged attacker, identified as Fiston M. Ngoy, was arrested by SEPTA officers and charged with rape, indecent assault and sexual assault.
SEPTA called the assault a “horrendous criminal act” and urged anyone witnessing anything like it to report it to the authorities.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” the authority said in a statement.
The attack was reported by a SEPTA employee who was in the vicinity of the train and noticed that “something wasn’t right” with a woman aboard the train.
Under the Pennsylvania Statutes, an individual is charged with rape when they force or threaten to force a person to engage in sexual acts against that person’s will. Rape is treated as a first-degree felony in the state; perpetrators could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $25,000.
Newsweek reached out to Upper Darby Township police Saturday for further comment but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.
In August 2020, a man was arrested after he allegedly attempted to rape a woman in a subway station in Manhattan—but was interrupted by a “good Samaritan,” NBC News reported. Video allegedly showed 31-year-old Jose Reyes on top of the woman, and police said he punched her and threw her to the floor. Multiple people witnessed the incident.