Philadelphia train rape: Riders who recorded Fiston Ngoy and didn't call 911 may be charged

The rape lasted about eight minutes and none of the other passengers intervened, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch noted


                            Philadelphia train rape: Riders who recorded Fiston Ngoy and didn't call 911 may be charged
Fiston Ngoy (R) is currently being held at the Delaware County jail on $180,000 bail (SEPTA, Delaware County Jail)

The passengers who did not intervene as a woman was raped on the night of Wednesday, October 13, on a train near Philadelphia could be criminally charged, authorities have said. They noted how riders did not even call the police as the crime unfolded and took pictures and videos instead.

Surveillance footage from a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train showed a man boarding a westbound train at about 10 pm and sitting next to a woman. Upper Darby Township Police Department Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt noted how 35-year-old Fiston Ngoy “sat next to her for a conversation" before ripping her clothes off and "just completely overpowered the woman and forcibly raped her.” The assault lasted about eight minutes and none of the other passengers intervened, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch noted.

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Bernhardt said there were several passengers in the train car, but declined to say how many. He told the New York Times that investigators were still working to determine the exact number. He acknowledged that there weren't “dozens of people” in the car at the time, but said there were enough that, “collectively, they could have gotten together and done something.”

“I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman,” Bernhardt told NYT on Sunday, October 16. “Anybody that was on that train has to look in the mirror and ask why they didn’t intervene or why they didn’t do something,” he added. Busch said authorities were finally alerted by a female SEPTA employee who boarded the train and witnessed the incident firsthand. An officer from SEPTA's police department subsequently intervened after the train stopped at 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby.

Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday, October 15, Bernhardt said it was unclear whether other riders simply ignored the attack or were too afraid to act. Authorities were reviewing surveillance footage to examine the passengers' behavior. “If somebody who witnessed this had called 911, it’s possible that we would have been able to intervene even sooner,” Busch added.



 

Court records indicate that Ngoy has since been charged with rape, sexual assault, and aggravated indecent assault without consent, among other crimes. He is currently being held at the Delaware County jail on $180,000 bail. Speaking to NYT, authorities said Ngoy was homeless and not armed at the time of the attack. Following the arrest, the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was taken to a hospital for treatment. “I spoke with the victim and she is an unbelievably strong woman,” Bernhardt said. “I can’t say enough about her, how she was able to identify her attacker, tell us what happened. Now she’s working… to get through this.”

Busch explained that SEPTA’s police officers and several unarmed guards regularly patrol its stations and trains, but mainly respond to reports of robberies and thefts. However, this sexual assault could lead the transit authority to increase security, he added.

Speaking of the bystanders, Bernhardt said that those who failed to intervene could be criminally charged if they recorded the harrowing ordeal, and this would be decided by the district attorney’s office once they receive the final police investigation report. However, the superintendent added that Pennsylvania does not have a Good Samaritan law, thereby making it “very difficult to bring charges against those” who witnessed the attack but did nothing to stop it.



 

Bernhardt explained that the most "appalling" aspect of the case was the lack of empathy displayed by fellow passengers. He said the footage reviewed by authorities clearly showed an opportunity to intervene. “I’m just speechless,” he said. “To be a victim of a crime like this and be victimized a second time is absolutely horrible. I don’t know where we are in a society that people can’t help other people out in a time of need.”

The police superintendent explained there were several things witnesses could do to intervene — call 911, alert the train conductor, or scream in order to distract the attacker.

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