A woman was allegedly sexually assaulted on a transit train in Philadelphia last week when a number of witnesses could not stop the incident or call police, authorities said.
The alleged rape took place on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Market-Frankford Line Wednesday night and was a “horrific criminal act,” SEPTA said in a statement.
The public transit authority said other people on the train saw the incident and did not warn authorities.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act and it may have been stopped before if a rider called 911,” SEPTA said.
“SEPTA encourages anyone who sees a crime or a dangerous situation to report it. Anyone who witnesses an emergency must immediately call 911. “
SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said an employee near the incident as the train passed called police to report that “something was wrong.”
“The SEPTA employee boarded the train and saw the assault underway and immediately called 911. It received an immediate response from SEPTA Transit Police, and an officer boarded the train as it arrived at the 69th Street Transportation Center,” Busch said in a statement. “The officer found the suspect and the victim and took the suspect into custody.”
The suspect was identified as Fiston M. Ngoy, 35, who on Thursday had a preliminary indictment on charges of rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and more, according to court documents.
He is in jail in Delaware County on 10 percent of the $ 180,000 bail and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for next Monday, the documents show. CNN has not been able to reach Ngoy for comment.
Police said witnesses aboard the train should have called police or intervened.
“Anyone who was on the train should look in the mirror and ask why they did not intervene or why they did nothing,” Upper Darby police chief Timothy Bernhardt told CNN on Monday. “Together, they could have pulled themselves together and done something.”
Bernhardt said the suspect did not know the victim, whom he praised for coming forward, according to CNN-affiliated WPVI.
‘Incredibly strong woman’
“Incredibly strong woman. She really is. She came forward, she gave a lot of information. She is improving and hopefully she will get through this, ”he told WPVI.
SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards told reporters Monday afternoon that police arrived within three minutes of the 911 call from the employee.
Richards said the employee who reported the incident acted quickly and “probably did not know exactly what they were seeing,” but reported it immediately.
SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III said there were “very few” reports to police about the incident, even though there were people on the train with phones in their hands who witnessed the alleged rape. He said SEPTA police received a call and Philadelphia 911 received no calls and he had not heard from Delaware County 911.
Asked if passengers on the train recorded the incident on their phone and posted video on social media, “I can tell you that people were holding their phone in the direction of this woman being attacked,” he said.
Richards said there are 28,000 cameras on the SEPTA system that tell reporters “you will be videotaped if you do anything on our system that is wrong and you get caught.”
People who have recorded the crime on video may be exposed to a crime, even if it is up to the district attorney’s office.