The Sexist

Metro Transit Police Talk Groping

The Metro transit system is one of D.C.'s most popular venues for public gropers. Whether it's the guy pushing his erection into your back on a train or the man reaching out to grab your genitals at a bus stop, these transit-based assailants have at least one thing in common—they'll almost certainly be assaulting again somewhere down the road. Eager to help stop the Metro system's most egregious offenders? Last week, I spoke with Captain Kevin Gaddis of the Metro Transit Police about how victims can report their Metro-based sexual assaults.

* Metro sexual assaults are underreported. In 2009, Metro police received 47 sexual assault cases—"anything from unwanted touching to groping to indecent exposure," Gaddis says. (To date, 13 of these cases have been closed). To Gaddis, the number is "miniscule." "We have a million people riding Metro every day," Gaddis says. "Forty-seven cases a year is a very small number." But the true rate of sexual assaults on Metro is impossible to tell: "I honestly don't know how often it really happens, but I know it happens far more than it's reported," Gaddis says.

* Report ASAP. If you witness or experience a sexual assault on a train, why not alert police while the assailant is still stuck in transit? Call Metro Transit Police immediately—either from your cell phone, at (202) 962-2121, or from one of the call boxes at the end of the car (just pick up the receiver and ask the operator to connect you to Metro Transit Police).

In Maryland, Virginia, or D.C., Metro Transit Police will deal with incidents in Metro cars, platforms, parking lots, and garages. With a little bit of information—a description of the suspect, the line, and the train number—an officer may be able to reach you immediately. "We have a lot of officers out there on foot," says Gaddis. "The best thing we can try to do is intercept the incident at the next stop or a couple stops down."

* Or: Report later! "If the suspect is already gone by the time the victim reaches us, the victim can still identify the person and allow us to get an arrest warrant later on," says Gaddis. Even victims who never see their assailants—or can't provide a complete description to police—are encouraged to report their assaults.

"Some of these people—particularly the indecent exposure suspects—are repeat offenders," says Gaddis. Even reporting the time, place, and nature of an assault can help police figure out assault patterns. "The ones that do it, it's probably not the first time they’ve done it, nor will it be the last time. In 2009, it's unlikely that our 47 cases involved 47 different assailants . . . We know that a lot of these repeat offenders always ride on the same line. There's usually some type of pattern. Every little bit of information helps us."

Illustration by Brooke Hatfield

  • Rick Mangus

    Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping, Groping,
    Groping, Groping.

    This is how the MAJORITY of the people who read this paper on line and your column view this topic, it's boring and not news worthy and this editorial censership you have is worthy of any dictatorship in the old Soviet Block.

  • K

    Spoken like someone who's never been groped. I can think of several incidents on Metro in the past year I didn't report because I didn't think the police could do anything. After reading this, I'm resolved to report the next incident. If they don't catch the guy, at least they have a record that will help the next time he tries something.

    Also, I don't think anyone, Soviet bloc dictator or not, is all that interested in hearing you tell another commenter that they should "shave [their] pits and buy a dildo." If you don't want to be "censored," perhaps you should consider advancing the dialogue with your posts rather than ad-homming every commenter that disagrees with you?

  • noodlez

    BASED ON THE GIST OF THE COLUMN IM CONVINCED THAT MS. HESS NEEDS A HUG.

    I WAS TOLD ITS HARD FOR A STRAIGHT WHITE GIRL HERE IN DC. TOO MUCH COMPETITION. HELL BETWEEN THE BIG BOOTY SISTAS WHO ARE STARTING TO ATTRACT THE BRETT'S OF THE WORLD AND HOMOSEXUALS WHO LOOK LIKE EURO REJECTS W/SKIN TIGHT AFFLICTION TEES, SKINNY JEANS AND COLE HAAN'S A WHITE GIRL CHOICES ARE LIMITED.

    OTHER THAN THE DRUNK STUDENT WHO IS FINALLY AWAY FROM HIS PARENTS ACTIN A FOOL IN G'TOWN OR THE ONE COOL WHITE BROTHER WHO CRUISES U ST THERE ARE A SHORTAGE OF LEGIT WHITE BOYS IN THE CITY.

    SO I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY MS HESS PENNED THE GROPING PIECE FOR THE PAST WEEK. SHE WANT AND NEED TO BE TOUCHED. JUST NOT IN A ROUGHNECK KIND OF WAY.

    CALLING ALL WHITE BOYS!
    CALLING ALL WHITE BOYS!

  • PearlsBeforeSwine

    So, do the Metro Police urge you to take a picture of the suspect with you cell phone? It would seem a good thing to do to help identify the suspect, but it might put the victim at risk. Or should observers of the incident do the same?

  • Mrs. D

    Not a bad idea for bystanders, Pearls. I always have my cell out on the subway listening to music, surfing the web, and texting. It would be almost completely unnoticeable if I took a picture of someone...should shut off the shutter sound, though.

  • Rick Mangus

    THIS IS A NON STORY, WHY ARE WE HERE!

  • Rick Mangus

    Also these groping stories is the writer of this column personal agenda for what ever reason. If you are truly a journalist your personal feelings should not be in your writing!

  • Rick Mangus

    Also you should be able to stand up and take criticism and opposing views of your column without censorship!

  • http://stonesoferasmus.blogspot.com Greig

    I have never been groped but I know people who have. Personally, I think people who suffer metro groping feel ashamed and do not feel empowered enough to cry out for help.

  • TJ

    @Rick, unfortunately for you, this is a blog. Blogs are set up so that the writer can voice his/her opinions on certain subjects going on in the world. Amanda has chosen to write about how gender and sexism play a role in everyday life AND HER VIEWS ON IT. You, too, can start your own blog if you don't like what Amanda writes.

    Or here's another: you don't have to read her blog.

    I almost believe that you want your comments to be flagged so that you get some type of notoriety or something...

  • Joe Schmoe

    I was on a train when a drunk guy was harassing people and exposing himself to women. He eventually dropped his pants altogether and tried to pee on two ladies (who for whatever reason were the only ones who refused to move to another part of the car, or a different car, to get away from this guy).

    Numerous people informed the operator, who told us that the Metro police were on the way. I even walked up to the front to speak to the driver face to face, and he (nervously) told me that, really, they were coming soon.

    The driver did not stop actually the train, and proceeded up the line while all of this was happening. The Metro police finally showed up at the last possible moment, the train's terminus, over a half hour after this all started, and at the point where everyone had to get off anyway. Grossed out passengers, harassed women, and urine all over the train. Brilliant!

    That having been said, when I was in London, I used the emergency intercom when a drunk guy grabbed and groped my girlfriend and began verbally harassing her. And yes the train did stop, but the driver and passengers were all angry . . . at me for having delayed the trip (we shoudl have just walked away).

    The moral of these stories is that society seems to trying to balance how to deal with sexual assaults on transit with the inconvenience dealing with them decisively and appropriately causes passengers. And I am sure many women are doing that mental calculus as well: Do I spend a bunch of time reporting this to the Metro police who are sure to be uninterested?

    Ironically, though, Metro goes overboard for sick passengers.

  • Rick Mangus

    No, 'TJ' the writer, Amanda seems to have an ax to grind which any journalist will tell you is a no, no. In the case of this column personal feeling come into play this is fine if your writing an op-ed piece.

  • TJ

    @Rick. I pride myself on being able to see/hear arguments that are counter to my own. In this case, though, I'm sorry, but you're just wrong.

    Dictionary.com defines blog as follows:

    an online diary; a PERSONAL chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log

    Wikipedia defines it like this:

    A blog (a contraction of the term "web log")[1] is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of COMMENTARY, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

    Note that the commonality of both of those definitions. The very clear theme is that it is the personal thoughts of the writer. Technically, it's her personal on-line diary and WCP thought that it was cool enough (and smartly written enough) to put on their website and allow us to comment.

  • TJ

    Sorry, I missed the extra "that" in the last paragraph when I re-read my entry.

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