A a woman was being raped while on a train near Philadelphia last week, riders watched, failed to intervene and did not call 911, reported The New York Times.
Reminiscent of the 1964 killing of Kitty Genovese. She murdered in the Queens borough of New York while as many as 38 people looked on or heard the murder. The inaction spawning the "bystander effect' or what was also referred to as the "Genovese Syndrome." The New York Times later retracted some of the reporting and admitted to sensationalizing the reporting.
In last week's case a man whom officials identified as Fiston Ngoy sat down next to a woman at about 10 p.m. on a train that was traveling westbound on the Market-Frankford Line toward the 69th Street Transportation Center. Mr. Ngoy “attempted to touch her a few times,” said Andrew Busch, a spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, known as SEPTA.
The woman pushed back and tried to stop Mr. Ngoy from touching her, Mr. Busch said. “Then, unfortunately, he proceeded to rip her clothes off,” Mr. Busch said on Sunday.
The assault lasted about eight minutes, and no passengers in the train car intervened, the authorities said.
“I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman,” Timothy Bernhardt, the superintendent of the Upper Darby Township Police Department, said on Sunday. “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.”
Several passengers were in the train car but Mr. Bernhardt declined to say how many; investigators were still working to determine the exact number, he said. While there were not “dozens of people” in the car at the time, Mr. Bernhardt said, there were enough that, “collectively, they could have gotten together and done something.”
Bystanders on the train who failed to intervene could be criminally charged if they recorded the attack, Mr. Bernhardt said, adding that it would be up to the Delaware County district attorney’s office to make such a decision after the police finish their investigation and submit their findings.
Alexis Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Miami, said there are several possible reasons that some crime witnesses do not intervene, such as fear of retaliation by the perpetrator and a belief that someone else will step in and help.
“The onus is really on us as a collective because we can’t always rely on the police,” he said. “We have to rely on one another.”
By expecting someone else to help, “we’re basically washing our hands and absolving ourselves of that responsibility,” he added.
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