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As a woman was raped on a train near Philadelphia Wednesday night, passengers watched, did not intervene or call 911, authorities said.

A man who authorities identified as Fiston Ngoy sat next to a woman around 10 p.m. on a westbound train on the Market-Frankford line to 69th Street Transportation Center. Mr. Ngoy “tried to touch her a few times,” said Andrew Busch, spokesperson for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, known as SEPTA.

The woman stepped back and tried to prevent Mr. Ngoy from touching her, Mr. Busch said. “Then, unfortunately, he started ripping her clothes off,” Mr Busch said on Sunday.

The assault lasted about eight minutes, and no passenger on the wagon intervened, authorities said.

“I am appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman,” said Timothy Bernhardt, superintendent of the Upper Darby Township Police Department, on Sunday. “Anyone who was on this train should look at themselves in the mirror and ask why they didn’t intervene or why they didn’t do something.”

Mr. Ngoy, 35, has been charged with rape, sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault without consent, among other crimes, court records show.

Several passengers were in the car, but Mr. Bernhardt declined to say how many; investigators were still working to determine the exact number, he said. Even if there weren’t “dozens of people” in the car at the time, said Bernhardt, there were enough “collectively they could have come together and done something.”

He added that investigators had received information that some passengers recorded the attack on their phones, but that the police had not confirmed this information.

Eventually, a transportation authority employee got on the train, saw what was going on and called 911, Mr Busch said.

Then a “police officer ran into the train and caught this man in the act and took him into custody,” Mr Busch said.

The surveillance footage authorities are reviewing does not contain audio, Bernhardt said. But based on the footage he had examined, it was clear that passengers had an opportunity to intervene, he said.

The woman told authorities what happened after Mr. Ngoy was taken into custody, Bernhardt said. She was taken to hospital, authorities said.

“What this woman went through at the hands of this guy, what she was able to provide us, is incredible,” said Bernhardt.

Mr. Ngoy, described by authorities as homeless, was being held in Delaware County Jail in lieu of $ 180,000 bail. He didn’t have a lawyer Sunday afternoon, according to Bernhardt.

Passers-by on the train who did not intervene could be charged if they recorded the attack, Bernhardt said, adding that it would be up to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office to make such a decision once police will have completed its investigation and submitted its results.

It was not immediately clear what those accusations might be, and Mr Bernhardt said he did not want to speculate. He added that Pennsylvania does not have good Samaritan law and said it would be “very difficult to lay charges against those” who witnessed the attack but did not intervene.

A representative of the district attorney’s office could not be reached on Sunday.

SEPTA said reports of sexual assault were rare, with thefts and robberies accounting for most of the crimes reported on its trains. There is no officer on board every train. The Market-Frankford line carries around 90,000 people per weekday on average, Mr Busch said.

“We really hope people read about it, see the stories on TV, and think about helping efforts to prevent such incidents from happening,” he said.


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