Police spread news that riders on a Philadelphia train watched a rape occur and merely held up their cellphones to film it without intervening.
“It’s disturbing that there were definitely people on the El,” a nickname for the train line, “and no one did anything to intervene or help this woman,” police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt told local NBC news affiliate, NBC10.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” said a spokesman of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).
But the county’s top prosecutor, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, says this “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. That is simply not true. It did not happen. We have security video from SEPTA that shows that is not the true narrative.”
As Stollsteimer told NBC10, based on his review of security video, a handful of people were getting on and off the train car, and may not have known the full scope of what was happening.
The train car where the alleged rape happened “was not very crowded at all,” he told the news outlet. “[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” that a crime was being committed.
The DA also said that two people may have recorded video of the attack on their cellphone, one of whom “probably” alerted SEPTA, NBC-0 reports.
The suspect in the case has been identified as 35-year-old Fiston Ngoy.
Police and the DA are now asking anyone who was at the scene to come forward to help provide evidence for the case.