Woman attacked on subway platform as workers looked on


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Mar 28, 2008

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She cried rape — and no one helped
Woman attacked on subway platform as workers looked on
By Mike Celizic
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 8:33 a.m. CT, Wed., April 8, 2009

The young woman had been attacked in full view of a New York City subway clerk, then dragged down the steps onto a deserted platform where she was raped and raped again, the assailant not stopping even when a subway train pulled into the station.
Now, after nearly four years of constant nightmares, bouts of depression and anxiety, the woman has been told by a judge that two transit workers who saw her being attacked had no obligation to do anything to help her other than to signal their superiors that police were needed at the station.
In response, the woman, who asks to be identified only by her first name, Maria, is going public with her story in the hope that something will be done to save other women from enduring a similar nightmare.
“Hearing the decision about the case — it broke my heart. It really broke my heart,” the 26-year-old told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Wednesday in an exclusive broadcast interview in New York. “I was really hoping that changes would be made, that other women taking the subway out there could feel safe and secure. The subway is raising their fares and spending even less money on security.”
The former graduate student said she didn’t expect the ticket clerk to leave the safety of his booth or the conductor of the train that stopped at — and left — the station during her attack to jump off his train to aid her.
“He could have just gotten over the intercom and said, ‘Hey! Stop what you’re doing! I’ve called the cops!’ Anything like that would have helped,” she said. “He didn’t have to get out of the booth. I don’t expect him to be a police officer. But he could have definitely said something over the intercom, or perhaps having a quicker system of notifying the police would have been effective, too.”
Maria, a native of Russia who came to the United States at the age of 7, was 22 years old and two days shy of her birthday when she was attacked. She was a graduate student at NYU looking forward to a career as a writer when she took the Queens-bound G train to visit her boyfriend in Brooklyn in the early morning of June 7, 2005.
It was shortly after 2 a.m. and the car nearly deserted as Maria occupied herself during the trip by listening to music on her headphones and writing in her journal.
“The second I realized something was terribly wrong was that I felt someone touching my feet,” she told Vieira, reliving again the terrifying attack. “I just thought someone had brushed me with their foot, and I noticed that the only person sitting in the subway was sitting in a place where they could not touch my feet. So I realized it was someone touching me with their hands.”
Missed her stop
The train pulled into her station, but, she said, “When I attempted to get off the train, this person touched my feet again, and when I turned back to yell at him, I ended up missing my stop. Then I was alone in the subway car. I was terrified. I couldn’t wait to get off the train at the next station, and just run away from him.”
Maria got off at the next station — 21st Street in Long Island City in Queens. She sprinted for the staircase that led from the platform to the upper level. As she reached the top of the stairs, she saw a clerk in the attendant’s booth. At the same time, her attacker caught her, wrapped her in a bear hug, and started to carry her bodily back to the deserted platform.
She told the judge in the civil suit she filed against the Metropolitan Transit Authority that she and the clerk looked at each other for a full five seconds.
“I actually was thinking, ‘Oh, thank god, I’m saved. Someone’s here that can help me. This is going to be done in no time and I’m finally safe,’ ” she told Vieira.
The clerk pushed a button that notifies central command that a police officer is needed. Maria said he could have gotten on the intercom and scared the attacker off. But he did nothing else as she was carried to the bottom of the stairs screaming and crying.
Threatening her life
“After he pulled me down the stairs, he proceeded to rape me at the bottom of the stairwell,” Maria said. “I was screaming and crying and begging him to stop. He said, ‘If you continue screaming, I’m going to have to do something.’ I couldn’t stop crying, so then he took me by the scruff of my neck and my jacket and put me over the tracks, like a 45-degree angle, and said, ‘Don’t scream again or I’m going to let go.’ ”
During the attack, another train pulled in and departed. She caught the eye of the train’s conductor. He, too, notified the command center that police were needed. But he didn’t stop the train or do anything else to stop the rape.
At the civil trial, the judge who ruled for the MTA concluded that the clerk and conductor “had taken prompt and decisive action” in calling for help and had complied with work rules.
The MTA issued a statement that said, “It is important to note that while NYC Transit workers are trained to the highest degree of professionalism in their assigned jobs, they are not and should not be expected to perform in the capacity of law enforcement officers.”
“I was never expecting them to be police officers,” she told Vieira. “They could have stayed in their booth and gone over on the loudspeaker and said something. In terms of it being prompt, by the time the cops had actually got there, 10 minutes later, I had been assaulted twice.”
As the police arrived, the assailant fled the station and has never been apprehended.
After the assault, Maria attempted to continue to work toward a graduate degree. But she had panic attacks when she rode the subway and had to quit school. She is still in intensive therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
But she has found that speaking out has been therapeutic.“The most important thing for me was breaking the silence and telling my story, because it was just haunting me and eating away at me. I was kind of a zombie, walking around with this enormous weight on my shoulders and blaming myself,” Maria said. “The more I got to speak out about my story, the better I felt. The most wonderful thing was that other women would start to come forward about their own stories that they had never told anyone else.”
She said she has forgiven her attacker, but not the MTA.
“Unfortunately, the man who assaulted me was obviously mentally ill and psychotic,” Maria said. “He probably had no basis of reality. He didn’t have a conscience, but the transit worker did. He was a human being capable of feeling emotions as I was. I just felt that it was so coldhearted and just completely abominable to basically look the other way.”
Maria’s lawyer, Marc Albert, joined her on TODAY and told Vieira he’s not done fighting.
“We’re going to appeal,” Albert said. “The transit authority claimed to be training their workers. There’s no training going on here and there’s no system in place. We certainly will be appealing.”
© 2009 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30105703/

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Just watched this story on Kelly's Court on Fox News and it brings up a variety of emotions. Aside from holding back tears I am absolutely furious.

From a CCWers standpoint, I want to spit on those guys for not helping. They're no better than the rapist in my book.

From the woman's standpoint, I can't imagine crying out for help, staring into help's eyes, and left out there alone to be raped, twice.

As a CCWing woman, this is why I carry. I'm not going to wait and put my life in some cowardly passers-by hands. I'm not going to pay with my body, twice, while I wait for cops to show up.

I would like to see pro-gun advocates take this story and run. That act of calling 911 does not stop the attack. Before the cops got there this poor girl was raped TWICE. There were so many chances for this incident to go right. That lady should have been armed. Those loser subway workers should have helped.

I'm sorry, I'm flaming mad. Sadly a number of women can relate to this poor lady's horror. Guys, this is your wife. This is your daughter. This is your sister. This is your mom. Are you ok with it being your family?

Lastly, I can't believe that two witnesses stood by and ignored it. And I wave a finger in salute to the judge for his ruling. It should not be a written law that a person is required to exercise human decency and humanity to help a woman being raped right before one's eyes.

Laws are worthless without principles. Its no wonder our society standards are going down the toilet. This world is upside down when doing right is wrong and wrongs are acceptable.



TGT Addict
Jan 28, 2009
Houston, Cy-Fair
I remembered seeing a video of a man hit by car and left in the streets of Connecticut (iirc) to fend for himself. People even drove around the older man. That kind of crap sets me on fire.

I've lived and traveled up north/northeast. They are not "Texas Friendly". I don't know if it's the cold, the crowd, or the crowded while cold, but it's not the same as the south.


Mar 16, 2009
I have to say I agree 100%. If you see something like that going on you've got to do something. If you're not armed yourself, use a backpack, a newspaper, anything to try and help. If this was happening to my wife, I'd be pretty pissed to find out people saw what was going on and didn't help out. What happened to a sense of duty inherent in the common person. Nowadays, it's mostly a sense of self preservation. It's sad when people think we should let our military help others, but don't want to do anything themselves. Good people get hurt because lazy self-centered people let the bad guys win while they wait for someone else to do something. These guys are like a bunch of sick voyeurs in my mind.


Active Member
Aug 8, 2008
"When seconds count, the police are only minutes away." This quote is not a jab at LE, it is just a fact. The police department is a reactionary force, one that is not obligated to give citizens personal protection.

Why would any governmental body not allow its citizens the right to protect themselves? What happened to that woman was beyond terrible, and yes, I think the MTA should be held accountable.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."...applies to this situation in a very sad way.


TGT Addict
Jan 23, 2009
I can feel for her and understand her frustration.:mad:

In 1978 I was robbed in Houston at gun point while pumping gas.
There were three other people pumping gas and the attendant was watching as well and no one stepped up.
Shortly after my home invasion 4 weeks later I started carrying a 357mag.
At the time I did not care if CCW was legal or not.
As one tag line says; when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.


Active Member
Mar 11, 2009
The High Ground of Texas
This is the quote that steamed me.

The MTA issued a statement that said, “It is important to note that while NYC Transit workers are trained to the highest degree of professionalism in their assigned jobs, they are not and should not be expected to perform in the capacity of law enforcement officers.”

How about performing in the capacity of a "decent human being?"


TGT Addict
Jan 23, 2009
This is the quote that steamed me.

The MTA issued a statement that said, “It is important to note that while NYC Transit workers are trained to the highest degree of professionalism in their assigned jobs, they are not and should not be expected to perform in the capacity of law enforcement officers.”

How about performing in the capacity of a "decent human being?"
This is a "ME" world.
You hardly every hear we, us, - it's always me or I.
I aint gettin involved!!!!
Back in 78 while waiting for the HPD I asked the gas station attendant why he did not call the cops? His reply was "not my problem"

Most people don't give a dam unless it happens to them.
I will say with exception that most CHL holders have a completely different view. I think this may because they themselves don't want to be a victim or see someone else become a victim.
Man this tread is starting to piss me off.
I can't stand people that watch an injustice and walk away thinking it's ok.:mad:

Big country

TGT Addict
Mar 6, 2009
Cedar Park,TX
Me neither. I was in the parking lot at the Leander post office last year (mailing rent) and there was a terrible head on collision and people just stood there watching while a road construction guy, wilco deputy and I started helping. People just don't care anymore. (Now I'm only 23) but when I was a kid we'd stop and help people, and I still do. We take things like rape seriously in Texas,I guess they don't in New York. I don't think someone could do that to a woman in Texas and get caught.


Mar 16, 2009
Exactly. I understand that it's me world, and I'll be the first to admit that it's hard to care about everybody all the time. Maybe that's why I try not to watch the news all the time, you get depressed or pissed when you see what happens out there. But I'll ssay this: it's one thing for you to be indifferent when you're at home watching TV, it's another thing when you're there in person. Get off your butt and do something. Don't stand there like a moron and think "hmmm...isn't that a shame?". How do these people even look themselves in the mirror. I may not be a totally selfless person, but I try to help when and where I'm at a place where things aren't going right. These people who don't care oughtta be given a swift kick in the rear. They probably sit in their pews at church and talk about how great a person they are...


TGT Addict
May 28, 2008
Ft Worth, TX
OK, we all think others should help in such situations.....but the thrust of the article was that the woman wanted the witnesses held civilly responsible.

Do you want THAT?



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