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Was It Cowardice or Just Being Sensible?

You see a woman being dragged down a deserted staircase in a subway station, fighting off a rapist and screaming for help - do you:

a) immediately run to help her, possibly at your peril
b) call the cops from the safety of your subway booth and consider it a job well done

Well, a New York judge has recently tossed out a lawsuit by the rape victim who claimed that two subway employees did nothing more to stop her rape than just calling the cops from the safety of their posts:

A conductor saw the rape from the window on his train, and a station agent in the booth witnessed a screaming woman being dragged down a staircase inside the desolate 21st Street station of the G line. But neither one left the safety of their assigned posts to help her. Instead, conductor Harmodio Cruz and agent John Koort called the command center to summon cops.

Justice Kevin Kerrigan ruled the two workers had taken "prompt and decisive action in obtaining police help," according to the decision handed down in Queens Supreme Court. The help came far too late for the victim, who was raped on the platform.

Her lawyer, Marc Albert, called Kerrigan's decision "offensive," saying it gives "blanket immunity" for transit workers to ignore straphangers in peril. "Simply pressing the button is enough," lamented Albert. "God forbid citizens are put in a position where municipal workers are not required to act and it leads to harm -- they are left out in the cold."

Link - via The Zeray Gazette

What do you think: was it cowardice or just being sensibe?

(Photo: Catherine Nance)

It's a difficult, but unfair question, because we don't have all the facts. Did the employees know it was only one man? Did they see him at all? Could they have known if he was armed or not?

I would be haunted by it the rest of my life if I was one of those guys and felt it wasn't safe to act. Rape is a horrific thing. A cop at least is armed, has training, and can call for back up, but even a cop wouldn't go charging in blindly...
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They employees seem to have followed the rules of their job, and met the minimal legal requirements of their employer for dealing with the situation, and should not be held liable. After all, your employer and the law itself can't force you risk your life in an emergency.

But as MEN and human beings -- they have failed miserably and should be ashamed.
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I am a high school teacher in Queens. We are very clearly instructed not to come to the aid of fighting students. We are to call security and stay out of the way. If something happens to a student we could be charged with using force against a student. While a student may be getting the crap beat out of them, I'm not protected from being sued. It's not an easy situation, but everyone likes to sue everyone else.
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It doesn't matter whether it was cowardice or not.

BOTH employees would have been FIRED if they had gotten involved physically.

We see this All the time where employees of McDonalds, Liquor stores, or as above teachers are fired for preventing crimes.

The real cowards are the employers and the insurance companies.

SERIOUSLY Neatorama, you need to stop posting this kind of thing if you can't step back and look at it from a worker's point of view. You are doing no one any good by promoting FALSE CHOICES and you have been doing it for a long time now.
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Cowards. Horrible, useless,cowards that should be ashamed to ever look at themselves in the mirror again.

Whether it's in your job description or not, if another human being is in danger and you have a chance of stopping it, if you're any kind of decent person at all, you do what you can to help. And in many cases, you don't even have to physically fend off an attacker, just making it known that you're there and you see them and you're prepared to stop them and that the police are on their way is enough to scare off the criminal. Not even trying is sick.

Those two should be locked up as accessories to the crime. If you do absolutely nothing when you see a crime, especially a violent crime, in progress, you're actively helping it happen and should be held responsible,too.
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Regardless of the threat of legal action, something should have been done. Even showing your face from 100 feet away and yelling will likely scare the attacker away. If the risk of being caught is high enough, he'll bolt. This is what's wrong with the world, people as good neighbors aren't willing to take matters into their own hands, to help each other. I guarantee you that if the situation was reversed and these guys' daughters or wives were being brutally raped in public they would want someone to intervene and not wait around for the cops to show. You don't need "training" to know that someone needs help. It's pure selfish cowardice.
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Yes, as MEN we are the protectors and required to respond. The reason this country is going down the tubes so fast is because real MEN are few and far between. A real MAN would have responded by kicking the rapist in the teeth a few hundred times and then helped the woman to her feet and called for medical help. Only a coward would have just sat and watched.

They should be fired and held somewhat responsible for that woman's harm.

@AndrewW That's school and a lot different. School does very little to teach you how to deal with the real world. Besides, fighting is not rape. If I saw two people fighting on the street, I would probably just call police.

Sorry for the rant. This subject bothers me because my wife was raped before we were together and no one came to her aid even though there were people that heard the whole thing and could have done something.
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Qwbit - which part is the false choice?

Part of the dilemma is that there's a difference in what is legal (or what your employee handbook said you should do) and what most people is considered a moral obligation.

Does your obligation to help ends at a phone call? Do you even have an obligation to help in the first place?
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@Melissa - I agree with you 100%!!!


@I_Iz_Hope - Well said!!

I wonder if they even thought to themselves, what if that happened to their sister/mother/daughter/spouse....would they still have just sat there??? This story angers me. Rape is more and more thought of not such a big deal, but it is!! Its disgusting, violating, immature, and senseless. And all those who sit back and not do anything about are just as guilty!
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Just the other day a guy was robbed in the street when he tried to help a guy who was pretending to have a seizure while his buddies waited nearby to attack whoever came to help first. I'd call for help and stay in the safety of my booth.
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I'm going to argue for doing what you can while remaining safe, regardless of the employment repercussions. As rape is all about power over someone you can control, the attendants would likely not have put themselves in harm's way by staying within sight range of the rapist and screaming their heads off while calling police.

We can't know for sure, but it seems likely that a rapist wouldn't as easily complete his crime with that kind of audience. If he sees that the station employees aren't going to budge from their compartments, he probably feels he has time to carry on being a rabid piece of excrement.

Sure, you can't punish the attendants for doing the least, but come on now. I sincerely hope that if I am ever threatened with one of the most devastating violations in existence, people nearby would do more than this.

And I don't know about the "men as protectors" issue, but I know that as a Person, if I saw this going down, my throat and my hands would still be sore from screaming bloody murder and gripping my car keys like weapons, ready to roll.

Rapists are cowards beneath their desire to victimize and dehumanize. They don't like a challenge. Even one extra person on the scene, one more witness, one more person protesting, usually prevents such horror.

I just can't imagine the numbness required NOT to exit the booth and at least make a scene so that a fellow human isn't profoundly harmed. Incredibly sad.
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Maybe they should have done something more, suing them for not though is crazy. The rapist is the guilty party here. These guys did help, they summoned the police, which is probably the only thing they could do if they wanted to keep paying the bills and feeding their own families.

IMHO, the rapist deserved to be shot, ala Charles Bronson. These day's though we send samaritans to jail and rapists to treatment. This is what you get.
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It's a horrific act of cowardice on the station attendant's part. Makes me sick to my stomach actually. However in the end, I agree with the judge's ruling. They may have only done the bare minimum, but it was done. After that, it's up to the person's own moral will to take further action or not. We cannot expect a law that requires one to put themselves in danger to help others - as much as we'd like to.
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Yes Craig, because of a rare anecdotal incident in which someone who seemed to need help was actually part of a scam, everybody should stay inside their little psychological booths when fellow humans are threatened. Remind me not to get endangered while you're on Craig's Illogical Better Safe Than Human Patrol.

And robbery does not even remotely compare to rape.
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No, men are not required to put their lives directly in the line just because they have a Y chromosome. There are countless variables that are relevant to such a grave decision, so nothing could be more stupid than trying to instill this behavior as some kind of knee-jerk reaction just because a person meets some genetic requirement.

Even police officers and military personnel are instructed to rationally assess the situation and then take the most sensible approach within their current capabilities – and that's part of why they're much better trained to deal with situations like these than the average passer-by.
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I would have tried to stop it but I do not fault them for not jumping in. At least they called the cops, it's not like they did nothing. Maybe they felt helpless to do anything or were afraid.
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It's nice to be able to judge safely from the computer monitor and keyboard, but until you were in the situation, one NEVER KNOWS HOW THEY WILL ACT. Period. Some of you think everything goes according to plan like a hollywood action movie. All of you Chuck Norris's out there bursting with machismo (and whatever else from the females here) think all it takes in these situations is to do a spinning roundhouse kick and you are the hero of the day, with your face in the newspapers and doing the talk show circuit.

Well unless you are there in that situation, you will never know. Sure, it would have been the right thing to do morally to do more than call the cops, but what is the right thing? What if this guy (or any guy in similar situations) was over six feet tall, 250 pounds of rippling muscle, or even armed with a sharp knife or gun? What then?

This isn't really a unique psychological situation, where 'outsiders' always cast judgement after these sorts of incidents. They think, why I would have done something, these people are cowards, etc. etc. Happens all the time.

I would hope to do the right thing myself if god forbid something like this happens. But at the same time words on computer screens are just that, words.
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I probably would have helped, but one thing is bugging me, which is the letigiousness.

I've heard of cases where a bystander helps someone, and then gets sued for not helping them 'correctly'.
Now you can get sued for NOT helping someone? So, if basically, you can get sued if you do OR don't help, if you happen to be nearby. That's rather bothersome.
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Most of you who CLAIM you would be heroic in that situation would probably do the same thing those guys did. Time and time again, psychological studies show that humans are terrible at predicting their own behavior. Given a hypothetical situation, most people SAY they would do one thing, but really do another when actually put in that situation for real. And I know you're all thinking "Well, I'M not like that; I'm not like most people." And you'd be wrong about that, too. There have also been studies that show that most people also share this same illusion about themselves: that they're different from others, and that they would do the right thing where others wouldn't. So please step down from your high horses. Those transit workers aren't heroes, neither are you, and there is no moral obligation for people to act like heroes. I gaurantee that 90% of you who CLAIM you would have intervened would actually have done no more than call 911 from your cell phone while heading in the opposite direction.
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Could've, would've, should've. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback, but we weren't there and have probably never been put in situation like that before. Bullets and blades don't bounce off of my skin and I think it's ignorant to say someone should go charging into a violent crime with unknown factors. If those guys tried to help her and got shot and killed people would be talking about how stupid and reckless they were and how they should have called the police instead.
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For both the conductor and the attendant, this was the sensible thing to do. For the attendant at least, it was also cowardly.

I doubt that the train conductor could rationally have stopped the train - that risks the next train down the line, risks the patrons in the train, and in any case the Conductor now has to get out of the train, run down the tracks, and come back up to deal with the situation? He did the right thing by immediately reporting the situation.

I also question what he could see as the conductor. Those trains open, close, and move, as shown by the fact it took almost no time for her to miss her previous stop. The conductor may have heard a scream but been moving already.

The attendant though. Clearly the sensible thing was to hit the alarm, which he did. But I wonder how he could have sat in his booth while a screaming woman is raped in his station. That would give me nightmares.

But it doesn't rise to a legal situation. You can't sue random bystanders for not helping you. And an employee is still a random bystander, unless they're hired to protect the riders.

The lady might have sued the subway system for not having security at empty stations at 2am.

Without laying any blame on her for being raped (and I truely don't mean to), I do wonder what a woman is doing riding a subway system at 2am without mace or a stun gun or a cell phone or something. I doubt this is the first time she's ridden the subway... there's a level of common sense missing there.
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I agree completely with Melissa and I_Iz_Hope. A job description detailing standards of protocol is meaningless in a situation like this and the two men who are hiding their cowardice behind that defense are pathetic. I hope karma puts them in a situation someday that makes them understand the crime they abetted. They didn't even have to fight off the rapist - just let him know there were witnesses who could ID him and were there. We'll never know if that's all it would have taken to save this woman. I hope the woman files a civil suit against both of them.
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Lots of Internet Tough Guys posting. There's a big difference between your imagination and reality, people. Guaranteed, in real life 99% of you calling for blood would do the same as the workers.

Personally, I quite like my life. There are situations where I'd help strangers, situations which I understand and am trained to deal with. Violent confrontations, with an unknown and possibly armed assailant, are not one of them. I didn't sign up to be everybody's bodyguard and to take bullets for you all just because I was born with a Y chromosome.
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File a civil suit? They didn't rape her.

There was a case in Denver, quite a while back where a woman came to the aid of someone who was being attacked (forget the specifics), and she got shot and was paralyzed from the waist down after that.

Seems like quite alot to ask of bystanders.

I believe the police would advise you to just call them.
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Was it only the workers that were standing around. There had to be other people there, I really doubt the station was 'empty' in New York city. People live in fear of doing anything, so they do nothing. The blame doesn't just fall on the workers, there has to be at least 20 other people to blame. Society has regressed by it's own standards, the workers are told to follow conduct or get fired, and the regular commuters just say to themselves "I better not get involved, I'll let the transit employees deal with it". In the end, nothing gets done. You ever hear the advice that if your being rape you should yell "Fire"? That advice has been around for years.
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@rkolter: If you're going to speculate about the contingencies involved in the employees' behavior, you might want to extend that magic eight ball vision to the victim, who a) could have had mace and a phone and been unable to get them out because of the whole "attack" situation and b) is not by rational measure exhibiting "risky" behavior by virtue of being female on earth at 2 in the morning.

Common sense? One in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. I'd love to be able to leave my vagina at home when I go out, but that's not an option and likewise, going through life gearing all my behavior toward the everpresent threat of rape is no real life at all.

Sure, trust in god but tie your camel, but also, the behavior that needs adjustment is ultimately that of society and the victimizers. I don't argue that mace isn't a good idea, but really, it's not useful in the least to muse about this woman's choices, since they basically involved existing while having genitals.
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Gah, now the tough guys are out calling those of us who say we'd do more for the victim the "tough guys." I don't call it tough, I call it human and decent.

And although it's easy to excuse your own ambivalence with the projection that most who claim they'd help more significantly have never actually been called upon to test that assertion, I'll volunteer that I HAVE been in just such a situation.

Walking past an alley in D.C., saw a woman being assaulted. Screamed like a banshee, grabbed a passerby and ordered them to go for a payphone (no cells then), stayed in the relative light of the street lamp, and threw my shoe at his head. Then the other one. Couldn't think of anything else to do, but at that moment my instincts somehow found a balance between a healthy fear of death and a human urgency to help. I don't in any way think this is going above and beyond the call of duty. I think it's the natural and correct course.

And the man exited the woman and ran because I assume he could see it was no longer a situation where he had the advantage and the safety of being ignored.

Doing a little more seems to have an exponentially greater effect in these instances, and that's an important point. I'm not now and have not argued that one should jump on the guy's back. But there is a middle ground that can really make a difference.

You can defend doing the least. I'd rather be at marginally more risk by doing a little more and potentially preventing something horrific.
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All of you calling these workers cowards, and hoping they get sued and whatnot. Can you honestly say you would be berating them in the same way if it was two female transit workers instead of two male transit workers?
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not knowing the full details of this, Ola Amigo seems to have a good handle on the risks involved here.

a woman is being raped, the rapist may have a weapon, the transit employees have no weapons. from a police perspective, i'm not sure i'd want untrained transit employees putting themselves into danger.

maybe the employees get shot. now when i arrive on the scene there's a raped woman AND a shot transit employee.

maybe in attempting to intervene, they escalate the situation and the rapist ends up killing the woman.

once the transit employees make the decision to get involved, not all of the outcomes are good for them OR the woman being raped.

it makes me wonder if there wasn't police testimony to the effect of "we see what usually happens when untrained individuals try to get involved in this kind of thing, and the results are often ugly".
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I'd like to think that I'd have helped her but I don't really know how I'd act. I don't blame the attendants at all since they DID call the police. I think claims that the attendants should be punished the same as the rapist are extremely stupid. The bystanders and the raped woman were just unlucky (by far mostly her, of course). The rapist actually did something wrong.

Claims that men specifically should risk their lives for strangers aren't fair. Women should be equally accountable. The Women's Rights movement was to get women more power and therefore responsibility. This also means that men have less.

It comes down to risk vs reward. Men have less reward so they take less risk. If you want otherwise then you need stupider men.
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The MTA employees had choices other than the ones discussed here. I absolutely agree with violet #34 -- there is middle ground!

First, the station agent DIDN'T call the cops. He called the command post to get THEM to call the cops. Crucial moments could have been lost that way -- it's likely many moments, if you know the MTA...

Secondly, the station agent could have yelled loudly from inside the booth or used the intercom to say the cops were on the way -- and remained perfectly safe.

@rkolter #28: The conductor could certainly have stopped the train. Other trains along the line might have been forced to stop and wait as well, but that inconvenience seems comparatively trivial. A train stopped in the station would have meant witnesses. The perp might have been caught and apprehended if there had been witnesses.

And yes, of course a conductor can see someone who is being raped on a station platform. That's hard to miss. And he did see it, because he also called his command post.

By the way, the victim wasn't drunk or sleeping. She was on her way to her sick boyfriend's apartment, and she missed her stop because she was engaged in an altercation with the man who started touching her feet on the train -- then followed her off the train and raped her.
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All of you who think the guys are cowards for not acting, and then wish bad things on them are no better than the rapist who started this whole thing.

Do you not see the irony in hoping someone gets hurt just because they didn't put themselves in harms way to protect someone else?

And was there no one else on the platform?? I'm supposed to believe that there was no one else anywhere around who could have done something other than the attendant and the conductor. Seriously? Why doesn't she sue some of those douches who did absolutely nothing instead of the guys who called for help??
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Agree Heather..... I dont think what they did was cowardice at all and to wish harm on them is just completely idiotic.

I would've done the same thing. Maybe scream at the rapist saying that I called the cops, or just to distract him or something, but how on earth do we know what we would do if put in to a situation like that.
Sure we can sit here and say we'd go in guns a blazin to save the day, but I'm sure most of us would do the same exact thing as those guys.
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Amen Craig, the very voice of reason.

Indeed it is psychologically 'normal' for people to always say, oh, I would have done more, etc. etc. The reason is, they are in effect trying to force out the very thought that they too might not have acted like some action hero. They want to reassure themselves, thinking, but I'm a good person, I'm no coward, I would do more.

Yet time and time again bystanders have done nothing.

Kitty Genovese anyone?

How about that old guy who was struck by multiple cars and people stood around and walked by and no one did a thing. What about the baby in California who was being stomped to death by his insane father on a highway. Dozens of eyewitnesses just stood there and watched and did nothing, one of the bystanders a fire chief (the only person who reacted was a cop who shot and killed the guy).

What about the greyhound bus guy? While the guy was being stabbed to death, everyone was screaming and running away, not running to help like Steven Segal. Everyone was practically stampeding to get off the bus, and eyewitnesses afterwards were claiming the guy was over six foot, bald, and some huge maniac (the killer was five foot nine, of medium build, and not bald).

Indeed it has been proven time and time again most people will do absolutely nothing in these situations. If you Bruce Willis' out there personally experienced a situation where people were screaming, there was gunfire, a stabbing, blood and gore, unless you are there, then you don't know. Period.
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It probably should have been better if they had called the police AND helped the woman because honestly, what do they want to do while waiting for the police? Watch the woman suffer? It is quite sensible to call the police, but it's slightly cowardly to just stand in the safety of a booth while someone is in trouble.

But I figured, not everyone has a lionheart.
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I really think that the two employees did all that was required in the situation. No one should have to risk their own safety because of another person's view on "moral obligations". From the view of a person who has stepped in on stopping a fight, it is not fun to get hurt for a situation that had nothing to do with you in the first place.
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Of course, like I said last time, not everyone has a lionheart. It's quite rare to find someone who would indeed try to rescue the lady, and although a lot of us here think that we would also have saved the woman, bear in mind the Historian's fallacy.
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A while back here in Australia three dudes approached one dude who was involved in an altercation with a woman in downtown Melbourne. The one dude pulled out a gun and shot the three dudes, one of whom died, leaving behind his family. I bet if he had the chance to do it again, he wouldn't have run blindly into the situation.

I think the two untrained railway workers trying to apprehend the rapist could have inflamed the situation, and there could have been three murders. Would you trust a dude who blatantly rapes a woman in a trains station to not be carrying a gun?

That's not to say those two guys won't feel bad about what happened. I would. But who would feed my family if I got shot trying to do someone else's dangerous job that I'm untrained for?
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The "Good Samaritan" law was a joke concieved by Seinfeld writers, and we laughed at it (or we were supposed to, anyway). It sounds like more than a few people here would be willing to help pass a real-life version of a TV sitcom joke.

I side with the booth people. What if the rapist had a knife/gun? When the attendant moves in, the rapist kills the victim, flees, and the attendant is widely cricized and sued by the victims family for taking the law into his own hands instead of waiting for trained policeman.

Im just saying, it always, always goes both ways.
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While consider myself to be a "protector", I don't expect all men to take this same stance. As was mentioned earlier, these guys at best did the sheer minimum to assist this lady - of course they could have done more. I can't see condemning them though without having all of the facts. Personally the first thing I would think of is "what if that was my mother/daughter/sister, etc." and would do everything in my power to assist.
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I do not think they booth operators are cowards. And I do not think any of us (uless you work for the MTA as a booth operator), can judge the operators or claim that they would have done different.

I have been in a situation similar to the dilemma faced by the booth operators. While it was nothing as horrific as rape - it was two students having a knockdown drag out, teeth flying fight. I ran and broke up the fight, got punched in the process and held them apart, while they were still swinging, until school authorities showed up.
I broke protocol. I was admonished for my actions. I was threatened to be put on temporary leave.
According to the rules, I was supposed to sit there and watch the fight.
But the "I cant sit here and let this happen" made me break it up.
I was told that I could be liable for any injuries to the students I pulled apart.
I countered with "I could have been asked by a court "why did you just sit there and do nothing?"

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
People are quick to criticize over a situation that they have not experience themselves.
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As somebody who once intervened in a broadly similar situation, I can say that it takes a great deal of courage and possibly a helping of idealistic stupidity (or stupid idealism) to get involved in something like that without knowing everything about the situation.

I had the advantage of surprising the assailant, and I was fortunately in better shape than he was. I was lucky enough to succeed and leave with only a few scrapes and bruises. In retrospect, what I did was foolish -- he could have had a gun or there could have been others.

All the same, I know that I felt morally obligated as a human being to stop something so reprehensible. I felt personally obligated, as a man whose fiance has been a victim. Call it what you will, but I would never be able to look myself in the mirror if I'd acted otherwise.

As for those railway employees, they may not have had the "luck" I had. We don't know how fit they were relative to the assailant. The assailant might have been armed. They certainly would've lost their jobs, and possibly even their lives. They may have families to support. There was no way for them to win.

All the same... I can't think of a job that I wouldn't give up in a heartbeat to stop such a monstrous crime.
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In Castle Rock v. Gonzales the court ruled that police have NO DUTY to protect, even when they know a person is in danger. I can't possibly imagine how those transit workers or their employer are legally liable for stopping a rape.

Its sad, though, that the rape victim couldn't possibly have had a firearm with her. Even if there was a chance she might have had a 38 special in her purse, a rapist might well have been deterred. The lawmakers, the police, the anti-gun lobbyists and the courts conspired to make her a statistic.... now they can go be "tough on crime" some more.
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How can you say that these people deserve to be punished for not risking their lives? If they had intervened, who is to say the attacker wouldn't have killed both of them? They almost certainly would have lost their jobs due to liability issues.

I mean, I hope that they are decent enough people that they will have to live with guilt for not having done more, but truth be told, they didn't do anything wrong. Would you risk your life to save someone if you had kids at home, or a family to feed?

They are subway employees. They are not cops, or firefighters, or trained assassins or karate masters. They called who they had to call, and if the police had arrived sooner, they probably would be heroes.
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I guess the true test of what's right or wrong is what those employees would hope transit users might do if they were violently abducted and attacked in front of knowing witnesses. Would they consider it just and humane to see citizen transit user just "call it in", according to the rulebook, or risk their own safety to help them? Rules are a two-way street.

Also, by saying it's the woman's fault because she was "alone in a risky area", we all acquiesce our rights to public spaces to the criminals. Crime is territorial. Law-abiding citizens, men, women, and children should have the right to feel safe in any public space at any hour. But how much we value that right depends on how much we're prepared to defend it.

Take a good look around the world you live in and think on how much of what should be safe, communal spaces are "owned" by criminal intent. That woman has more right to that "risky area" than the rapist, by far. And in these economic times, who's to say she's not someone holding down two jobs to make ends meet, or feed a family?

Next time you see transit workers in danger, remember the rules. Call it in, and call it a day.
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It is amusing, and by amusing I mean incredibly frustrating and useless, how many people are chiming in to repeat the same one-dimensional point that has already been treated, responded to, and taken to a more nuanced place by commenters bothering to read the thread and engage the conversation for what it is: complicated.

Announcement: there are lots of angles to this situation, and only one of them involves some bizarro fantasy scenario of trying a roundhouse on a rapey devil and being slaughtered unceremoniously on the subway platform, thereby leaving behind a gaggle of weeping progeny. Get a grip.

@iRonnie: Your thoughtful comments notwithstanding, please don't dignify the pathetic trollery by granting it your energy. To acknowledge those opinions is to treat them as even marginally worthy of discourse, which they are not.
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@violet: I understand the sentiment of what you're saying but I think it's worth the energy. In the same way that people choose to look the other way on subway platforms, we cede sanity to the fringe if we simply ignore their presence. By doing so, we oblige ourselves to follow their lead because, by default of our own choosing, we grant them ownership of the forum.

If for nothing else, consider the key almost every one of clings to in our day-to-day life and ask yourself why it is that we all lock ourselves in at night. What's worse, being jailed by others, or jailing ourselves?

What's not worth the energy is all the vitriol and anger that always has, and always will lead nowhere. The only person who has the right to be angry in all this is the woman who was a) raped, and b) raped, both actively and passively, by these prime specimens of what is becoming more and more a society of impotent humanity.

What is worth the energy is fumigating that "risky area" of its criminal intent and restoring it as public space for law-abiding men, women, children, and yes, even transit workers. It's utterly absurd that people should fear their place of work to this degree, and it's absurd that the employees themselves see nothing so wrong with it that a) a few rules won't fix, and b) don't apply in kind when they might themselves similar dire straits.

Rules help us ignore the roaches ultimately at our own expense - be it on a subway platform, or in a forum. But more immediately, it helps us ignore the the rape victim's expense.
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Sorry, just one last thought. It's also worth considering this incident, along with many other "innocent bystander" incidents as cited by various commenters, as a peculiar descendant of the famous Milgram Experiment that showed people will do just about anything to other people, be it watch them suffer or actively make them suffer, when instructed by a higher authority.

In this case, the rules are the "higher authority" that absolved the two subway workers, and more importantly - the MTA, from any direct responsibility for this woman, or anyone else for that matter. The rules also the signal to criminals that they can do as they please, when they please, and where they please, without immediate interference.

There's something drastically wrong when the rules are designed to value job security over another person's life. But so long as "the rules" tell us it's okay to "dial it in", we're all "safe".
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Here's an unpopular opinion (surprise!).

Based solely on the scant info from the article, remember...If you can call the witnesses cowards for not intervening, how should you react to someone on their hands and knees licking your feet? Seems like a singularly vulnerable position to me...
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I would have done something, but this is the NYC were the world has been put upside down and all but criminals and thugs called cops have guns (not that all cops are thugs, but too many are).

This is why carrying a gun and having training for self-defense is a good thing, since the rapist would have a coffin or hospital stay. The cops will arrive generally too late to help your sorry ass, since they are few compared to the rest of the world.
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According to the article the cops showed up in about 10 minutes. That seems pretty responsive to me.

Whether or not those guys are cowards, I think it's wrong to sue them and the MTA. What if the judge hadn't thrown it out? These guys and the MTA owe this woman money cause someone else raped her? Might as well sue the entire city for letting rapists walk the street at all.

To bad the woman got raped, I don't think you should get paid for that though.
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quick things to think about, we are assuming that the MTA employees immediately knew that the situation was rape.

this is after all NYC and a transit employees see many many things. for all we know, (not knowing what was called in) they could have seen it as an altercation between two drunks or a couple or any any number of things.

the reaction required or suggested varies significantly knowing, if the situation was "grey" or "black" or "white" meaning if they knew what was going on.

the clear assumption is that regardless of what happened it didn't happen right infront of the station agent's office space right? without knowing the facts, it's impossible to predict if the situation was cowardice, or reasonable.

those who would see the situation as a place to interject regardless of whether or not it was altercation between 2 people who know each other, or truly a situation where one person is in danger. Must realize that in NYC you don't look, you don't ask questions, you keep to yourself. hence knowing where these employees are residents of and are working and what they see day to day, they followed standard procedure.

where they will probably never forget this situation and always ask more questions is to realize, that though normally it may not be anything so harmful, there are times where it is truly as bad as your imagination could make it.
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I assure you that even if I had the cr*p beaten out of me, if i could stop an attack such as this I would. (My reactions in emergency situations have been tried and tested thanks)
However, I am no idiot and as other commentators have said, why not shout at a distance - scare the **** away, for they must be a coward of sorts.
In life sometimes you have to take that step into the unknown. What if its your wife/sister etc...

That all said, can we have more posts of kittens and things now. I come here to escape the nasty stuff in the world.

Oh, but if they catch the guy, let us know.
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I agree that legally they did the right thing. Becoming involved would have cost them a whole heap of logistical trouble that they might not have recovered from so easily.

However... I am not one who has much faith at all, and what little I have certainly is not placed within the notion that the law, by virtue of being law, is "right". The workers may have been protecting themselves, but they failed to protect another human being and thus failed as human beings themselves.

I have a slightly different view from today's seemingly meek individuals. If I see any sort of undefined commotion that I cannot identify as playful, violent, or friendly, I immediately make my presence known and step into the confrontation. Of course, I also think that my life is best served to others than to myself.

I am sure I do not have all of the facts, and I might view these workers differently in a detailed discussion of the matter, but I will most likely find some annoyance in the lack of bravery and bravado.
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I would feel that I had to help if I was in this situation. I'm not going to call someone a coward, but I couldn't just stand there and watch this happen.
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@iRonnie: I hear you, I do, but people post stuff like that as a way of drawing out attention in a very cost-effective way: they drop an ounce of intentionally inflammatory/ignorant blather and get a lot more energy in return as people try to a) reason them out of their caves or b) shut them down. It's basically the internet version of pulling pigtails in second grade. Don't know how to interact in a balanced, thoughtful way? Just be repellent and cause a reaction around you--negative energy is still energy swirling about their otherwise lonely and impotent planets and it still makes them feel like they make a ripple in an indifferent galaxy.

On your second thought, I totally agree and I hadn't really thought much about the idea of authority as a psychological get-out-of-thinking free card. It's a really strong point, related but very different from the psychological process of assuming/pretending that "someone else" will call the cops/intervene. All these little mental tricks that allow us to keep walking, slightly sleepy, and hush the struggling little part that would engage critical moments with the awareness and authentic reaction they deserve.
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I very much do not believe that we should be forced by law to intervene in any way.
You have to be careful with all this 'there ought to be a law' crap. It goes too far, people overreact.
Every bad decision cannot be made illegal in order for it to never happen again, nor should it be.

There is another 'law' that these people should be subject to and that is morality. Society will punish these people if it feels that what they have done is wrong, or at least, it should be.
The power of society's ruling can be much stronger in affecting people's decisions and morals than being held responsible by a legal system.
And this is as it should be.
An event like this strengthens our morality.
People come together on forum to discuss the topic, to pass judgment and berate the guilty.

As far as answering the question above, I do not believe I have enough information from this article to decide that.
If the attacker had a gun and you risk being shot, would all the cowboys in the room still run 100 feet towards the attacker giving him ample chance to shoot you?
Maybe that's another question. How far does your personal moral duty extend?
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There is a memorial plaque on the wall of the crew room at Stillwell Avenue (Brooklyn) dedicated to the last employee who came to the aid of a customer. The MTA does NOT want it's employees to get involved in altercations. We're instructed to request police assistance. Of course, then everyone has to wait around until the coppers arrive. From personal experience (11+ years) I advise that you not hold your breath waiting.
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Not all men are capable of fending off an attacker. The idea that a skinny man is less of a man because he wouldn't be able to help is offensive.

But any person should do more than just stand by. It's easy to say "I was just doing my job" - that's what they said at the concentration camp in WW2.
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This isn't the same thing, but comes close: the case of Kitty Genovese in 1964. She was attacked, raped, and murdered. Many people didn't realize it was an attack, some knew and still did nothing. One person called the police 30 minutes after the first assault, but too late.

People are afraid of being attacked themselves if they help, sued for helping, sued for not helping, and more. It was great that both workers called police, but it would have been even better if the two workers could muster up the courage, grab a tool, and chase off the rapist together (if they knew of the other person's presence).

Me, I would have gone after the guy. Even if it was just me, the person being raped would be an ally and might help for fear of their life. Even if not, I couldn't live with myself after knowing what happened to Kitty.
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Okay, where are my New Yorkers?

1. It is illegal to carry mace in New York City.
2. Yes, many train stations are actually pretty empty around 2 a.m. Even Time Square.
3. Here's a funny thing I learned, leaving my job, which is in Time Square--OH, AT 2 a.m. I am a young woman. The train station is often pretty empty--and it's one of the busiest stations in the city. Many retail stores actually close at midnight and employees leave sometime after. Many employees clean up the store. This means it's not so crazy for a woman working part time to be on a train at 2 a.m.

That's only one of the many reasons a woman would be on a train that late in New York City. It's neither shocking nor surprising.

Just thought some of you should know.
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**Edit: Mace is now legal, but must be purchased in the same way a firearm would. Sorry about that, but there's been debate over allowing mace to be carried for years.

And still, some say pepper spray is legal but mace is not.
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I think its obvious that what you should do in this situation is take a risk. Knowing you could be sued, knowing you could be hurt, knowing you could be killed. You suck it up and you take a risk and you know that the risk you take pales in comparison to the certainty of lying to yourself for the rest of your life that calling the police was all you could do.

Do you have jujitsu moves or whatever? Probably not, but that isn't the point. Do you do any good? By not leaving someone alone in a moment like that you'll do more good in one act than most people get to do in a lifetime. You don't look opportunities like that in the mouth first.

If we want to live in a free society we have to accept the responsibilities of that freedom.

When an existential threat to your nation arises, you fight it. When a neighbor is in a struggle for her life, you defend it. And on and on. That is a big part of what it means to have integrity. Without that integrity we can't be free, and we don't really deserve the freedom happenstance has gifted us.
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@mark r: lovely. I do immediately think of arguments against yours, but I stand firmly in the camp of your sentiment. I think if we lived and behaved more closely to our truest selves, this is how we would act and feel. And I'm glad I'm not alone, as maudlin as that may sound.
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Well said, Mark R. I feel sad and sick for the state of mind that thinks it's OK to do nothing when another human being is in severe danger. Only help others when it's convenient or safe for yourself? Pathetic.
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Not attacking a rapist who you know nothing about is not cowardice, not on any level. Attacking that rapist was probably the worst thing the workers could have done. What if the rapist got frightened, and killed the girl? What if the rapist was armed and killed all involved? What if there was more than 1 rapist? For all those men know, the woman wasn't even being raped anyway, because women falsify rape cases every day now, crying rape when nothing even happened. Not attacking that rapist was smart on the men's part, not cowardly. For all the women saying men should defend you, chivalry went out the door when we initiated a feminine-based government filled with equal rights supporters. Equal rights = equal responsibility, although that doesn't seem to be the case any more.
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They did exactly the right thing....called the authorities. They are under no obligation to put themselves in harms way and possibly get killed themselves. Transit workers (or men) are not the protectors of females. Tell me, would she have brought a suit if the workers were female? -- pure sexual discrimination.
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Observing the rules. All good and well until the conductor or station agent later learns that the rape victime in question was in fact their wife, mother, sister or daughter. What a paradigm!?? Do we have to know this information before we act?
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It was cowardice, two men could easily take care of one. And most rapists split at the first sign of difficulty but these particular men were too scared to even try. I have no respect for them.
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To stand by while a woman is being raped is cowardice, whether you have a Y chromosome or not. I have come to the aid of a woman I saw being assaulted, even though I had to U-turn my car to get there.
All you whiners saying the employees would lose their jobs for acting, I say "Who cares?!" Any employer would hire a guy like that in a heartbeat.
The solution is simple: Draw your gun, aim it at the guy's head and tell him not to move or you'll kill him. Then if he moves, F*CKING KILL HIM!!!
All you pansies in NY & places like that need to take back your rights & then take back your city.
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