Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer on Thursday shot back at the account authorities have given of a rape on a train near Philadelphia that happened last week, saying the narrative that people just watched it happen and took video for their own gratification is "simply not true."
“There is a narrative out there that people sat there on the El train and watched this transpire and took videos of it for their own gratification,” Stollsteimer said, according to WCAU. “That is simply not true. It did not happen. We have security video from SEPTA [Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority] that shows that is not the true narrative.”
Authorities have said that a man, 35-year-old Fiston Ngoy, approached the victim and attempted to touch her multiple times before removing her clothes and raping her while other passengers were on the train car at the 69th Street Terminal. Ngoy has been arrested and charged with multiple counts including aggravated indecent assault without consent, rape and sexual assault.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” SEPTA said.
Security footage from SEPTA showed that a "handful" of different people got on and off the train and observed different parts of the rape, possibly not realizing what was happening, Stollsteimer said. He added that the train car “was not very crowded at all."
“[The train] is moving, so this is an incident that’s happening over time. So, people are getting in and out of the car. They may not all have been aware at any time what would happen previously," Stollsteimer said. “This is the El, guys. We’ve all ridden it. People get off and on at every single stop. That doesn’t mean when they get on and they see people interacting that they know a rape is occurring."
Addressing reports that people took video of the incident, the district attorney said that two people may have taken video and one of them "probably" alerted SEPTA of the assault.
He added that people in the region "are not, in my experience, so inhuman," pointing to a separate sexual assault last week, also at the 69th Street Terminal, in which a woman intervened when she heard another woman call for help.
Superintendent of the Upper Darby Township Police Department Timothy Bernhardt also condemned the passengers following the incident, saying, "I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman."
As WCAU reported, Stollsteimer emphasized that avoiding intervention when witnessing a crime is not unlawful and he has called on any witnesses to the rape to come forward. Only one witness has done so thus far.
“What we’re trying to do is gather everybody who witnessed anything that night – without fear of being prosecuted – to come forward so we can gather whatever evidence could be gotten from that,” he said.