Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer is pushing back on what he claims is a false narrative about the actions of bystanders during an alleged rape on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford line last week, reported WHYY-FM.
SEPTA officials and Upper Darby police have been quoted in stories that have been circulating nationally about the assault, many saying that bystanders stood by, watched, filmed, and did not intervene. Read my blog about the Bystanders Effect and the tragic murder of Kitty Genovese.
More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said.
At a Thursday press conference in Media, Stollsteimer says it’s true that no one intervened, and that a handful of people were on and off the train during the incident. But he said that some of those people may not have known what was happening.
“People get off and on at every single stop,” said Stollsteimer, “that doesn’t mean when they get on and they see people interacting, that they know a rape is occurring.”
When asked about the content of the video, and if the assault would be obvious to bystanders, Stollsteimer declined to respond and said the video was “evidence.”
Authorities in Philadelphia say a woman was raped by a stranger on a commuter train in the presence of other riders. A 35-year-old man was arrested and has been charged.
The DA said that two people filmed the assault on their phones, and one of those videos was handed in to the police. Stollsteimer also said one of the people who filmed was likely the person who gave an anonymous tip to SEPTA officials.
“There is 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,” said Stollsteimer. “It did not happen.”
SEPTA declined a request for comment. A suspect in the case, Fiston Ngoy, 35, is in custody.
The DA is asking for anyone else who witnessed the incident to step forward.
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