As a man brutally raped a woman on a Philadelphia commuter train last week, passengers not only did nothing to intervene, but they reportedly held their phones up and may have recorded the attack instead of alerting authorities, KYW-TV reports.
“There were people witnessing the act with phones in their hands,” Thomas Nestel III, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s police chief, said at a news conference on Monday, according to the television station.
“People were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked.” The rape spanned about six minutes, but none of the passengers called 911, KYW-TV reports. Instead, an off-duty train employee contacted police, who responded within minutes and halted the attack.
Fiston Ngoy, 35, is accused of the rape. He allegedly spent nearly 45 minutes prior to the attack harassing the woman and at one point touched her breast, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, citing court records.
The victim had attempted to stop Ngoy before the sexual assault, but she was unsuccessful. Ngoy then “proceeded to rip her clothes off,” SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said on Sunday, according to the New York Post.
It remains unclear how many passengers were in the car when the attack occurred. Still, officials say the incident might have been prevented if someone had stepped in.
“I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman,” Upper Darby police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt told The New York Times. “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.”
The passengers who failed to stop the attack could face criminal charges if they did indeed record the incident, according to The Times. However, bringing charges could be difficult because Pennsylvania does not have a Good Samaritan law, the newspaper reported.
Authorities are reviewing security camera footage, which apparently depicts passengers holding their phones up.
EPTA is urging passengers to alert authorities when they see something wrong, WPVI-TV reports.
“We want everyone to be angry, disgusted and to join us in being resolute in keeping our system safe,” Nestel told reporters, according to the Post. “We need the public to notify us when they see something that seems to be unusual.”
Ngoy remains in jail on $180,000 bail on rape and related charges.
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[Featured image: Fiston Ngoy/Delaware County Jail]