Philadelphia cops seek man accused of rape in subway station

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia police are looking for a man they say raped a woman on a subway platform while holding her boyfriend at gunpoint early Monday.

This is the third reported sexual assault since October on a Philadelphia-area commuter train or train platform.

The rape happened at around 4:30 a.m. on the Snyder Avenue station platform on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Broad Street Line, said Philadelphia Police Capt. James Kearney, the head of the special victims unit, at a news conference Monday afternoon.

The 40-year-old woman was in the station with her boyfriend, trying on clothes he had bought her, police said. The suspect entered the station with his bicycle, and the three acknowledged each other.

A few minutes later the suspect came back to where the victim was, and demanded sex while pointing a handgun with an extended magazine at the victim and her boyfriend, Kearney said. In surveillance video from the station, Kearney said the boyfriend can be seen holding his hands up while the suspect points the gun at him.

After the assault, the man exited the station on his bicycle and the victim and her boyfriend left the station through a different exit to call police. Authorities said it was unclear if the station was open to the public when the three entered. The first SEPTA train arrives at the station around 4:45 a.m.

The assault Monday comes just a few months after police charged a man in an April sexual assault aboard a SEPTA train, also on the Broad Street Line.

A rape on a Market-Frankford Line train in October while other passengers were present garnered national attention and a campaign from the transit’s police department to urge people to use call boxes and to report any questionable activity on trains. The suspect in that assault was arrested on board the train after a transit worker called police from the subway.

SEPTA officials have said they are working to address safety concerns, actively recruiting officers for the transit police department and working to increase the visibility of officers in the system. The transportation authority also put social workers on both the Market-Frankford Line and the Broad Street Line to make referrals for people with mental health issues or homeless people.

The system also recently added what it calls outreach specialists to help reinforce the rules of riding on the trains and to contact SEPTA police when needed.

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