Riders Won’t Face Charges for Failing to Act During Alleged Rape on Train

In Summary

Initial reports said SEPTA passengers watched the incident unfold but did not act, but the district attorney has pushed back on that narrative. 

WARNING: This story contains details of rape.   

Riders who didn’t intervene or call 911 to stop an alleged rape of a woman on a Philadelphia train won’t be prosecuted, CNN reported. 

PREVIOUS: Woman Sexually Assaulted on SEPTA Train in Philadelphia

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer has asked for witnesses to come forward. “While I share the public’s outrage that such a heinous crime could occur on a public SEPTA train, I want to reiterate that Pennsylvania law does not allow for the prosecution of a passenger who may have witnessed a crime,” he said. 

The alleged rape occurred on Oct. 13 on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Market-Frankford Line. Initial reports said that SEPTA passengers watched the incident unfold but did not act.  

A SEPTA employee observed the alleged assault and called 911, according to CNN.  

Fiston M. Ngoy, 35, was arrested and charged with rape, sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, court documents show. He is being held on a $180,000 bail.  

“Accordingly, any passenger who believes he or she may have observed the October 13th event on the SEPTA train should not fear prosecution,” Stollsteimer said. “You are encouraged to come forward to share information with law enforcement.” 

Stollsteimer also pushed back against reports that straphangers didn’t act or took out their phones to record the alleged incident.  

“There’s a narrative out there that people sat on the El train and watched this transpire and took videos of it for their own gratification. That is simply not true,” the DA said. “It did not happen. We have a security video from SEPTA that shows that was not the true narrative.” 

The DA added, “What actually happened was a handful of people who were getting off and on the train as it made its way to 69th Street, had observed different parts of this incident. Two people, we think, may have actually videotaped using their telephones. One of those people probably was the one who made the anonymous tip, that alerted the SEPTA police department.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.   

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