Police said a woman was raped on a suburban Philadelphia train on October 13 and there were "a lot of people" around who "should have done something," but the district attorney later disputed aspects of that account regarding the bystanders.
Police said they had arrested a man connected to the rape that allegedly happened on a SEPTA train. Fishton Ngoy, 35, has been charged with rape and several other counts.
According to authorities, some of the incident was caught on surveillance video that showed bystanders on the train when it happened.
"Were they watching? I don't know. Again, we're still going through the video but there was a lot of people, in my opinion, that should've intervened. Somebody should've done something. It speaks to where we are in society. Who would allow something like that to take place? So it's troubling but again, we're working on that and we're trying to identify anyone that we saw coming on and off the El at that time," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Tim Bernhardt said.
The victim was taken to a local hospital, Bernhardt told The Associated Press.
"She's on the mend," Bernhardt said. "Hopefully she will get through this."
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said on October 21 that security video shows that one passenger recorded part of the interaction, but it was unclear if the passenger fully understood what was going on, CBS Philadelphia reported.
"This is the El [train], guys, we've all ridden it. People get off and on at every single stop. That doesn't mean when they get on and they see people interacting that they know a rape is occurring," Stollsteimer said.
The case has rocked SEPTA riders and led to national headlines.
Bernhardt, who described the inaction of bystanders as "troubling," said officers were called to the 69th Street terminal around 10 p.m. after the assault on the train.
SEPTA issued a statement calling it a "horrendous criminal act" and said "there were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911." SEPTA said in a statement that one of its officers called 911.
Commuters who use the train were shocked to hear about the incident. Shane Brown told CBS Philadelphia, "They need more security, they really do. They really need a lot of security because it's getting bad out here. You can't even get on the bus."
According to police, the suspect did not know the victim.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comments from the district attorney.