Passengers do nothing as woman is raped on train near Philadelphia

Oct 19, 2021: A man is in custody after he reportedly raped a woman on a SEPTA train outside Philadelphia Wednesday night as no one on board called 911, police said Friday.

Authorities say a man accused of raping a woman on a passenger train outside the U.S. city of Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while several people picked up their phones to apparently record the attack without intervening.

The southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) police chief told a news conference Monday that more than two dozen train stops had passed when the man harassed, beat and eventually raped her. Police do not believe a witness on the train dialed 911.

Both men and women boarded the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers pulled the man out of the woman at the last stop. Authorities say they responded to a Transport Authority employee’s 911 call within about three minutes.

The attack took place around 10 p.m. on a westbound train in Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania. The woman did not know the suspect, identified as Fiston M. Ngoy, 35, who officials say was known to police. He has been charged with rape, indecent assault, and sexual assault, among other charges.

In a statement, SEPTA called the attack “a horrendous criminal act” and said officers apprehended Ngoy “in the act.”

Beyond condemning the assault, officials questioned why none of the other passengers appeared to do anything to help the victim. The 911 call came from a SEPTA employee who witnessed the attack from a platform as the train rolled by.

“There were a lot of people, in my opinion, that should have intervened. Somebody should have done something,” said Timothy Bernhardt, Superintendent of the Upper Darby Police Department. “It speaks to who we are as society. I mean, who could allow something like that to take place?”