PHILADELPHIA – A 36 year old woman was the latest victim of a sexual assault on the Market-Frankford El. The incident, which was reported by NBC 10, is the second in as many months on SEPTA’s busiest rapid transit line.
The victim told NBC 10 that she was accosted by a man while riding on an eastbound train between the York-Dauphin and Somerset stations on the evening on July 13:
“I was totally minding my business and this man just took something from me that he had no business taking at all.
“This man that was sitting in front of me distinctly turned around and put his hands in between my legs,” she said.
The 36-year-old woman pushed the stranger away and began screaming at him as they approached the Allegheny stop, she said.
The man, who smelled like alcohol, according to the woman, said he was sorry for touching her. He told her that he thought she was his girlfriend, she said.
When the train arrived at Allegheny station, two officers from the Philadelphia Police Department’s 24th District held the suspect for SEPTA Transit Police. It was from that point, the victim told NBC 10, that SEPTA Police reportedly let the suspect go.
The woman gave her statement to the SEPTA cops, she said. The transit authority police called [Philadelphia] Police’s Special Victims Unit about what to do with the suspect.
SEPTA claimed that they were told that it was standard policy to get the man’s identification then let him go.
“I really thought that they would lock him up and it took me by surprise because they let him go,” she said.
The woman wanted to share her story so that the public would know what could happen.
“I feel as though he has done this before,” the woman said. “It was just that easy and he was too calm…for him not to have never done it before.”
Based on a description from a previous incident on the El, which occured between York-Dauphin and Huntingdon stations on the morning of June 10 and in which the victim was a 17 year old Masterman High School student, it’s very possible that the suspect in last week’s incident could be the same suspect from the June incident:
The suspect is described as approximately 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, wearing a white t-shirt, jeans, a mustache, and stubble on his face. He was also described as smelling bad.
The victim certainly has every right to be angry over the fact that a man who allegedly had sexually assaulted her was allowed to be released by police. Law enforcement sources in the area who this reporter has been in contact with over the years have never heard of such a policy that SEPTA reportedly had insituted.
Even so, the Philadelphia officers should’ve turned the suspect over to the Special Victims Unit and, in fact, taken over the investigation in the first place, SEPTA property or not. After all, the incident occurred within the confines of the City of Philadelphia.
In any event, any person with information relating to either the June 10 or July 13 attacks on the El should contact the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit at (215) 685-3251.