A Pennsylvania prosecutor is pushing back against claims that train passengers pulled out their phones and recorded a woman being sexually assaulted on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) commuter train.
"There is a narrative out there that people sat there on the El train and watched this transpire and took videos of it for their own gratification," Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said last month. "That is simply not true. It did not happen. We have security video from SEPTA that shows that is not the true narrative."
According to a report from the Associated Press, police accused bystanders of failing to intervene. Commenting on the assault, one police official stated fellow passengers "should have done something."
The report states, "Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt of the Upper Darby Police Department said officers were called to the 69th Street terminal around 10 p.m. Wednesday after the assault on the westbound train on the Market-Frankford Line," adding, "An employee of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority who was in the vicinity as the train went past called police to report that 'something wasn't right' with a woman aboard the train, Bernhardt said."
The report goes on to note that officers tracked the woman down and then proceeded to arrest the suspect.
According to Bernhardt, the entire incident was caught on tape.
In a statement, he added, "There was a lot of people, in my opinion, that should have intervened; somebody should have done something. It speaks to where we are in society; I mean, who would allow something like that to take place? So it's troubling."
Two people appear to have recorded video of the incident, and one of those individuals "probably" alerted the authorities, Stollsteimer said.
The train car where the alleged rape happened "was not very crowded at all," Stollsteimer added. "[The train] is moving, 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 what would happen previously."
(Note: This article has been updated with remarks from Jack Stollsteimer)