(Reuters) – The rape of a woman aboard a Philadelphia subway could have been stopped quickly if fellow passengers aiming their cell phones at the “horrendous criminal act” used them instead to call 911, officials said on Tuesday.
The woman was raped shortly after 9 p.m. on Oct. 13 on a train run by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which provides public transportation into and within Philadelphia, local media reported.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” SEPTA spokesman John Golden said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
SEPTA and the Upper Darby Police Department, which is investigating the incident, did not immediately confirm other details of the incident reported by local media.
Surveillance video from the train car showed the woman attempted to rebuff her attacker, repeatedly pushing him away as he initially groped her and ultimately sexually assaulted her, local media reported.
Throughout the more than 45-minute incident, other passengers aimed their cell phones at the assailant but no one intervened, local media reported.
One person finally alerted 911. It was that call by an off-duty SEPTA employee that quickly brought transit police onboard, allowing them to stop the assault and arrest the alleged rapist, SEPTA police told Reuters.
Fiston Ngoy, 35, faces charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and other offenses, local media reported. Ngoy, who listed his most recent address as a homeless shelter in Philadelphia, was held on $18,000 bail and was scheduled for an Oct. 25 court hearing, local media reported.
Ngoy claims the encounter was consensual, but the woman denies that, local media reported.
The assault occurred after the woman had a few beers after work and mistakenly boarded the wrong train at 9:15 p.m. Minutes later, Ngoy stepped into the train, moved to the seat next to her and began trying to touch her, local media reported.
The incident escalated into a rape at 9:52p, local media reported.
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