The victim of last week's sexual assault on the 4 train that was videotaped by a bystander has yet to come forward, but police say they saw the video of the assault (below) and it may help collar the suspect. "We're looking into it, but there's no actual complainant," an NYPD spokesperson said. "But we've seen the video, and we have initiated an investigation based on the video." One local prosecutor, who would only speak on condition of anonymity, said that while the absence of a victim may hamper a case against the suspect, "You could presumably move forward with a case using eyewitness testimony. It's been done successfully before."
The prosecutor added, "In cases in which subway pervs are videotaped and the video has been out for several days, often they will be identified by people who know them. That happens all the time."
In this instance, the victim was sleeping on the southbound 4 train at around 3:30 Saturday morning when a man boarded at 96th Street and sat down next to her, placing his hand between her legs. Two male passengers, including Jasheem Smiley, who captured 18 seconds of the incident on his iPhone, attempted to stop the man. According to Smiley, the victim awoke when he attempted to put his arm around her. She then punched him "hard" in the cheek and fled the train. Smiley showed the conductor his video, the train was stopped, but the man had already exited at either 23rd Street or 14th Street.
"She still has a window of time to come forward and prosecute this," says Emily May, the executive director of Hollaback, an organization dedicated to empowering bystanders to stop street harassment when they witness it. "You have to think of it from her standpoint: she didn't ask to be assaulted, she didn't ask for her assault to be videotaped, and she didn't ask for the entire city and beyond to watch her assault. She very well could still be in a state of shock."
Another reason why the victim may not feel comfortable coming forward is unwanted media attention, as one law enforcement source recently told us that reporters often "stalk" victims of sexual assault.
May said that the victim may not feel that coming forward is in her best interest at the moment. "Right now her primary job is to take care of herself. She can come forward if and when she feels comfortable doing so." May added that while she was glad that Smiley alerted authorities to the incident, "He didn't have to strap on a Superhero costume, but he could have woken her up to stop what was happening. If he can take a picture of [the suspect] afterwards, great. But his primary responsibility was to intervene."