(A Populist Capitalist Blog) 

A New York City judge ruled March 31, 2009, that city subway employees have no duty to assist passengers being raped. On June 7, 2005, a conductor from the window of his train and a station agent from the safety of his booth both observed the screaming woman being dragged down a stairwell. In a lawsuit against the city, the judge ruled that the extent of their duty was fulfilled when they called in a request for police assistance. Neither chose to leave his assigned post to render any direct help or to intervene in any other manner.

I am offended and appalled by the decision.

Articles follow from the New York Post and the New York Daily News. Interestingly, I found no coverage in my daily reading of the New York Times, and a word search for “MTA” and “rape” on the Times website revealed only a short reference to the Post and News articles in a long New York Times blog covering many other topics.



NIGHTMARE ON THE G LINE: Both a train conductor and an agent in the 21st Street station booth in Queens called for police — but did nothing else — after seeing a rider being raped in ’05. A judge ruled that their actions were proper.

New York Post
April 1, 2009

A Queens judge ruled yesterday that subway employees do not have to do anything but pick up their phones if they see a crime — as he threw out a suit against the MTA and two workers who did nothing more to stop a rape.

A conductor saw the rape from the window on his train, and a station agent in the booth witnessed a screaming woman being dragged down a staircase inside the desolate 21st Street station of the G line. But neither one left the safety of their assigned posts to help her. Instead, conductor Harmodio Cruz and agent John Koort called the command center to summon cops.

Justice Kevin Kerrigan ruled the two workers had taken “prompt and decisive action in obtaining police help,” according to the decision handed down in Queens Supreme Court. The help came far too late for the victim, who was raped on the platform.

Her lawyer, Marc Albert, called Kerrigan’s decision “offensive,” saying it gives “blanket immunity” for transit workers to ignore straphangers in peril. “Simply pressing the button is enough,” lamented Albert. “God forbid citizens are put in a position where municipal workers are not required to act and it leads to harm — they are left out in the cold.”

The victim, an artist, was inside a Queens-bound G train at 2:15 a.m. on June 7, 2005, when the only other person in the car began to touch her feet. She jumped away from him, but the commotion caused her to miss her stop at Greenpoint Avenue.

She got off at the next stop, 21st Street in Long Island City, but as she waited for a Brooklyn-bound train, the same sicko — who had followed her off the train — began licking her feet. She ran up a staircase toward the platform, but the psycho grabbed her in a bear hug and hauled her down the steps.

A station agent saw the commotion, hit a panic button in the booth and called the command center for cops. The conductor of a Brooklyn-bound train saw the scuffle, heard the woman screaming and notified the train operator, who in turn also called the command center.

Albert argued that the workers could have done more without physically confronting the attacker — the conductor could have stopped the train, he said, and the station agent could have called police directly. But Kerrigan wrote that it was “pure speculation” that added efforts would have helped the victim.

Cops arrived in about 10 minutes, but the attacker escaped up a different staircase. He has never been caught, police said.

New York City Transit officials declined comment.



NY Daily News
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A woman raped in a Queens subway station was devastated Tuesday when a judge threw out her suit against two transit workers who ignored her screams for help as she was being attacked.

In a nine-page ruling, Queens Supreme Court Justice Kevin Kerrigan concluded a token clerk and a subway conductor had no responsibility to intervene and were following work rules by not confronting the rapist.

Kerrigan noted that the token clerk, John Koort, tried to call for help by pressing an emergency button inside his booth – which he never left, even as the attacker dragged the woman down to a lower platform. “This is not the type of egregious situation that offends common sense and decency … where they watched and did nothing,” Kerrigan wrote.

The early-morning attack occurred in June 2005 at the 21st St. station in Hunters Point. At the time, the victim was a 25-year-old graduate student.

The attacker has never been caught, and surveillance video failed to capture the attack.

In her suit, which also named the Transit Authority as a defendant, the victim claimed Koort and G train subway conductor Harmodio Cruz did nothing to save her even though they saw her being assaulted.

“My client is devastated. She was crying when I told her what the judge’s decision was,” said lawyer Marc Albert.

Albert said he and the victim will decide within the next 30 days whether to appeal. “How inept do their [transit workers] actions need to be before the courts will let a New Yorker file a case like this?” Albert said.

Lawyers for NYC Transit argued that Koort and Cruz had no idea whether the rapist was armed – and claimed any intervention could have “emboldened” the attacker.