Could Bystanders Who Did Nothing as Woman Was Raped Face Charges?

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Unconfirmed reports of passengers recording but failing to intervene in the recent assault and rape of a woman on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority train, or even call 911, could face criminal charges, reports the New York Times. The assault lasted about eight minutes, and no passengers in the train car intervened.  The final decision to do so would be left to the Delaware County district attorney’s office after the police finish their investigation and submit their findings. It was not immediately clear what those charges could be, but Timothy Bernhardt, the superintendent of the Upper Darby Township Police Department, where the incident took place, pointed out that Pennsylvania does not have a Good Samaritan law and said it would be “very difficult to bring charges against those” who witnessed the attack but did not intervene.

Several passengers were in the train car but Bernhardt declined to say how many; investigators were still working to determine the exact number, he said. While there were not “dozens of people” in the car at the time, Mr. Bernhardt said, there were enough that, “collectively, they could have gotten together and done something.” Alexis Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Miami, said there are several possible reasons that some crime witnesses do not intervene, such as fear of retaliation by the perpetrator and a belief that someone else will step in and help.

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