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NYC Subway Rape

NYC Subway Rape

Picture this:

You get on the subway to visit you boyfriend. You sit down with your journal to do some writing while listening to your headphones. You’re minding your own business when all of a sudden you feel a man touching your feet. You try to inch away but the man moves closer. The subway car is empty and you’ve missed your stop.

You jump out of the train on the next stop and begin to run up the stairs. You hear and feel the same man running behind you.  As you reach the top of the stairs the man grabs you from behind and begins to pull you down. As you struggle and yell for help you catch a glimpse of the token booth clerk and think you are saved.

You are wrong. The clerk does not leave his booth and the man pulls you down the stairs where he rapes and terrorizes you by holding your body over the train tracks, your neck in his hands. Soon after a train approaches and again you think that at last you will be saved but the conductor passes you by. After he’s finished with you the attacker gets away and to this day he has yet to be found.

This is a frightening ordeal and unfortunately a true story. The woman, Maria Besedin, 25, was just shy of 22 when she was attacked in a Queens subway station in 2005, an attack that could have been prevented. Both the token booth clerk and subway conductor who witnessed the rape only alerted central command when they heard and saw the victim yelling for help.
 
Following the attack, Besedin filed a suit against the MTA and the two workers who did not step in to stop the rape. Her lawyers argued that the two men did nothing to save her, but last week a judge threw out her suit ruling that by pressing the emergency button to notify command control both men were following work rules and had no responsibility to intervene further.

The employees argued that they had no idea whether the rapist was armed, but they could have done more to help Besedin. What about dialing 911 or calling the nearest police station? If simply pressing an emergency buttons is all the MTA rules call for in such a situation then they need to re-write the rules! 

“I’m honestly still in shock,” Besedin said of the ruling. “It’s so hard for me to process this whole thing because I just really wanted everyone out there to be safe, to never have to experience anything like I did.”

Her lawyers are disappointed as well and plan to file an appeal.

One of her lawyers, Marc Albert, called the decision “offensive,” saying it gives “blanket immunity” for transit workers to ignore passengers in danger. “Simply pressing the button is enough,” Albert said. “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.”

Today, nearly four years later, Besedin continues to suffer flashbacks from her nightmare subway attack. I can only hope that with the appeal justice will be served for Besedin and all NYC women subway riders.

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Photo by Oliver Mallich used under a Creative Commons license.

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51 comments

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3:26AM PDT on Apr 19, 2010

In Sweden you are required by law to help out at a traffic accident. Another law is on its way that will force you to intervene when a crime is committed. Intervene meaning anything from holding down (citizen arrest) to call the police. And Sweden don't allow private citizens to carry arms so no shoot outs like OK Corral. No one is required to put their own life at risk so just calling the police or rescue will be fine just as long as you do something. Pushing a button will not be enough!

6:20AM PDT on May 7, 2009

I wonder what the court verdict would have been had it been an honorable judge being assaulted. Would it have been enough for employees to push a button would they have got off so lightly - I have serious doubts all i have to say is that those employees were spineless jerks who chose to hide behind a regulation and let a woman be victimised - people like these are not worthy of the word human beings.

6:16AM PDT on May 7, 2009

I wonder what the court verdict would have been had it been an honorable judge being assaulted. Would it have been enough for employees to push a button would they have got off so lightly - I have serious doubts all i have to say is that those employees were spineless jerks who chose to hide behind a regulation and let a woman be victimised - people like these are not worthy of the word human beings.

6:05PM PDT on Apr 14, 2009

Unbelievable and ridiculous. I am on my way to apply for an MTA position since I've been under the mistaken assumption that a prerequisite was to be a big brawny gal who could step in and assist customers in desperate need should it become necessary. Apparently all I have to do is push a button! Shame on those men.

12:45PM PDT on Apr 14, 2009

Are you kidding me????????? I wanna know who let that judje on the bench? To say it is ok for someone to watch a women get raped as long as you pushed a button to lets someone else know whats going on is absolutly crazy!!! If i happen to see a crime being committed I'll be sure to look for the "OK" button and then continue on my way!

12:10AM PDT on Apr 13, 2009

We are first and foremost human beings and not the job titles given us. They may have been following the rules of the MTA and had no further responsibility than to push a button, but I think they could have acted on their responsibility as human beings a bit better and helped this poor woman.

11:42PM PDT on Apr 12, 2009

Where have people's heart gone? Where did our nation lose its compassion? I can't even comprehend TWO people basically ignoring this poor woman being raped, then hiding behind the "they did what was required of them." Well, it WASN'T enough and I send my heartfelt sympathy to this young woman and my sincere hope that her case will win on appeal and people will be held accountable for ignoring the desperation of others being attacked. It makes me shudder to think about. I survived a date rape in college and that was bad enough. My heart goes out to her and may this be a lesson to all that until we show compassion, we will never be at peace with the rest of the world.

1:57AM PDT on Apr 11, 2009

It is sad & ridiculous for those subway workers think they are doing their " job " ! Any human being would have done more to help this woman ! I will not take a subway next time when I visit NYC ! And I will let all my friends knows about this incident !
NO THANKS, NYC SUBWAY !

8:55PM PDT on Apr 10, 2009

Sad as it is, you cannot pass a law to force people to do the right thing.

That is, unless you deputize employees of the MTA and allow them to carry a gun.

Anyone remember Goetz in '84?

7:27PM PDT on Apr 10, 2009

The above comments are correct. It is sad, but we all have to watch out for ourselves because no one else is going to do it. This world has become a dangerous and sick place. Unfortunately, we have to always be aware and do whatever we can to protect ourselves.

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