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'Simply not true': Prosecutor disputes reports commuters 'callously' recorded rape on SEPTA train

The Delaware County district attorney pushed back against the narrative that commuters in Pennsylvania recorded video of a sexual assault but didn't intervene.
Image: SEPTA Train
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority subway cars on the Market-Frankford line in Philadelphia on Feb. 7, 2017.Charles Mostoller / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

A Pennsylvania prosecutor said Thursday it's "simply not true" that Philadelphia riders "callously" did nothing to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted on a commuter train.

The attack last week on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, train made national headlines as commuters were painted as coldhearted travelers who not only failed to intervene, but also stopped to record the rape with their phones.

However, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer insisted that that version events isn't accurate.

"There is a narrative out there people sat on the El train and watched this transpire and took videos of it for their own gratification," Stollsteimer said, using a local nickname for SEPTA's Market-Frankford line.

"That is simply not true. It did not happen. We have the security video from SEPTA that shows that was not the true narrative," he said.

Stollsteimer blamed SEPTA for painting an inaccurate picture.

"I think it really came from SEPTA officials," Stollsteimer told reporters. "I saw the video where they talked about 'these people,' acting like there was a group of people just callously recording this incident."

A SEPTA spokesman declined to comment Thursday.

Fiston Ngoy, 35, was arrested and accused of the Oct. 13 assault in Upper Darby, officials said.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt and SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch both squarely blamed riders Monday for not coming to the woman's aid.

Stollsteimer conceded that some riders might have caught a glimpse of the assault but didn't realize what they were seeing.

"It was not very crowded at all, sparsely crowded, and it's moving," he said. "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 of what would happen previously."