Maria Besedin, 25, was sexually assaulted in June 2005 around 2 a.m. by a man on the subway platform of the G line at Long Island City’s 21st Street station. The rapist, who was never apprehended, had sat down next to the victim on an empty subway train and touched her leg before following her onto the platform and sexually assaulting her, attorney Marc Albert said.
Besedin ran toward a toll booth clerk at the station and pleaded for help, but the clerk merely looked on as the assailant dragged her back down the stairs to the subway platform and raped her multiple times, Albert said. In court, the MTA argued that the clerk, who had hit a button that connected him to a command center, had followed procedure by not leaving the booth.
The victim had filed a suit against the Transit Authority last fall on the grounds that the agency failed to protect her, but Queens Supreme Court Justice Kevin Kerrigan dismissed the case last week.
“There’s going to be an appeal,” Albert said. “We feel it is certainly time for a judge to stand up and hold the Transit Authority responsible for at least some level of security in their stations. This is not a free service and people will be paying more to ride the subway. So the MTA needs to do something to protect its riders.”
In a statement, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority defended Kerrigan’s decision.
“MTA New York City Transit views the judge’s position to be wholly consistent with prevailing law,” the statement read.
The agency said that transit workers are instructed to request police or medical assistance for riders who are victims of crimes.
“They are not and should not be expected to perform in the capacity of law enforcement officers,” the agency said.
Besedin told the New York Post that she had made eye contact with the clerk before being dragged away by her attacker.
“I held his gaze for at least five seconds, yelling, screaming, ‘Help! Help!” she told the Post.
She had filed a suit against the MTA, the toll booth clerk and a conductor, who had driven a train through the Long Island City station as the rape was occurring but did not stop, Albert said. The clerk had contacted the command center at the time of the incident, but the rapist had fled by the time the police arrived 10 minutes later, he said. The victim, 21 years old at the time of the attack, had been en route to visit her boyfriend in Queens, who had recently had surgery.
“This judge determined that these cases should not go forward as long as security deficiencies are not so egregious as to offend any bounds of common decency,” Albert said. “We’re hoping the appellate court will see the importance of this issue and reverse the trial judgment.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community News Group
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