philadelphia —
WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some

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A spokesman for the suburban Philadelphia district attorney said prosecutors pursuing a case against a man accused of raping a woman on a commuter train last week do not anticipate charging fellow passengers a fee for not interfering.

“This is still an open investigation, but there is no expectation at this time that we will charge travelers,” said Margie McAboy, a spokeswoman for the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.

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In an emailed statement, District Attorney Jack Stolsteimer said that prosecutors want witnesses to come forward rather than fear prosecutors, adding, “Pennsylvania law does not allow prosecution of a traveler who witnessed a crime.” Be.”

According to an arrest affidavit detailing surveillance footage, authorities continue to investigate the October 13 attack, where 35-year-old Fiston Ngoy repeatedly touched and groped a woman during a 40-minute ride despite trying to push her away. had gone. by train.

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Investigators say Ngoy tore off the woman’s pants and raped her for somewhere between six and eight minutes before officers boarded the train and took her into custody.

Police declined to say how many passengers may have witnessed the attack, but it appears that some people held their phones in the direction of the attack to film the attack. Police also declined to say whether investigators found any photos or videos of the attack posted online.

The Associated Press’s requests for surveillance video of the October 13 attack on the Market-Frankford line have been denied, citing an ongoing criminal investigation. It is unclear whether passengers actually witnessed or recorded what happened on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority train.

SEPTA spokesman Andrew Bush said Wednesday that during the rape, passengers were standing or sitting next to them, though he could not speculate whether anyone understood the serious nature of the situation.

“Chief (Thomas) Nestle made his best guess that 10 people were passing, sitting or standing where the attack was taking place,” Bush said. “Our hope is that when people see this type of activity, whether they fully understand it or not, that they will hit the emergency call button or call the police. There was really no way of not seeing it, even if they did. It is not fully understood whether this has been done.

Legal experts said unrelated travelers do not have a legal duty to intervene under Pennsylvania law.

Jules Epstein, a professor of law at Temple University Beasley School of Law and director of the Advocacy Program, said, “Unless they have a legal duty to intervene, like a parent for their child, sit back on someone and do something.” Can’t even be prosecuted for not doing it.”

“Doing nothing may be morally wrong, but in Pennsylvania, without that particular duty relationship, it’s not legally wrong,” Epstein said.

Bush said the employee who called the police got into the train car after the attack began, but his call meant police had a chance to arrest Nagoy.

“Without that call, the suspect may have been able to walk the train and we would still be looking for him,” Bush said.

SEPTA’s police chief, Nestle, has said that Philadelphia 911 did not receive any calls about the attack. He said Monday’s operator in Delaware County 911 was still researching whether it received calls.

Ngoy is charged with offenses of rape and related sexual assault. He was being held on $180,000 bail, awaiting an initial appearance scheduled for October 25. Attorney Mary Elizabeth Welch confirmed that the Delaware County Public Defender’s office is representing Ngoy, but said she could not comment on the case Wednesday.

Court records show that Ngoy has a history of arrests and convictions in Washington DC, Philadelphia and suburban southeastern Pennsylvania counties under at least three names, including public intoxication, defecating or urinating in public, public disturbance, and others. allegations are included.

In D.C., Ngoy pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault under the name Jack Falcon, after police said he groped two women on the street near a homeless shelter where he was staying.