Scranton, Pa

SEPTA Passenger was Raped and Train Riders Did Nothing to Intervene

Posted: October 21, 2021

On Wednesday, October 13, a woman was being raped while on a SEPTA train near Philadelphia while the riders on the train watched, failed to intervene, and did not call 911.  Officials identified the alleged perpetrator as Fiston Ngoy, who sat down next to the victim at about 10 p.m. on the SEPTA train.  Ngoy attempted to touch the woman several times. Despite her clear objections to stop, he proceeded to rip her clothes off.  The assault lasted about eight minutes. Eventually, a transportation authority employee got on the train, saw the assault, and took action.  After the transit employee reported the attack, an officer waiting at the next station boarded the train, pulled Ngoy off the woman, and took him out onto the platform.

This heinous act not only exemplifies the perpetual violence against women that occurs every day, but also the troubling reality that our world is becoming desensitized to assault – and particularly violence against women.  It is appalling that those on the train did nothing to help this woman, and instead took out their cellphones and filmed the attack.   At a news conference, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III stated that, “What we want everyone to be is angry, disgusted and join us in being resolute to continue to make the system safe.  We need help from the public to notify us when they see incidents that are occurring that are unusual.”  As an entire community, we must be vigilant in protecting people around us, especially those who are vulnerable.

Bystander intervention can make a monumental difference and can help change the trajectory of the victim’s life.  In 2015, Chanel Miller had been sexually assaulted by Brock Turner as she lay unconscious behind a dumpster on Stanford’s campus. Here, bystander intervention changed the story.  The bystanders were Swedish graduate students Peter Jonsson and Carl Arndt, who were biking on Stanford’s campus when they saw Turner on top of Miller. They then stopped him, chased him down, and held him until the police arrived.

Yet, even as we focus on rape cases with present witnesses, the vast majority of rape cases without witnesses goes unreported.  According to a Department of Justice Survey, only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police.  Furthermore, even with these statistics, sexual violence is notoriously difficult to measure, and there is no one source of data that provides a complete picture.  Unreported assaults are all too common, thus, when there is a witness, it is essential to intervene or look for further help.  As a community, we must be determined to look out for others and remain attentive to our surroundings.  Horrendous criminal acts, like the alleged sexual assault that just transpired on SEPTA, are unacceptable and we must do better to protect victims.

Category: News

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