The King County Sheriff's Office reports that incidents of sexual misconduct on the bus system have surged recently. Over the last year, the county launched a local campaign to increase awareness of the problem. Mary Ellen Stone, executive director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, says that the majority of the victims are female. The King County Transit Police in 2018 received approximately 178 reported incidents of misconduct including sexual harassment and indecent exposure. This is a considerable increase over 59 such reports during 2017.
Metro Transit Police Captain Jose Marenco explains that less than 50% of the cases have led to an arrest thus far. He thinks that more incidents are being reported, not that there are actually more incidents occurring. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest Network, roughly 75% of incidents generally are not reported to the authorities. People who are victimized seem to attempt to exit the bus quickly but tend not to file a report.
- There have been several reports lately involving male passengers who were masturbating.
- A 16-year-old girl reported that a male student seated beside her began rubbing her leg.
- Bus drivers have been subject to abuse as well; one female driver was followed off of the bus when taking a break and was followed by a passenger who verbally harassed her.
- Another driver was approached by a passenger who attempted to kiss her.
Other City Campaigns
Transportation agencies in other cities including Washington, D.C. and New York have been experiencing similar incidents. In Washington, D.C., a survey revealed that 53% of those victimized by harassment did not formally report the incident. Women are apparently about twice as likely to be targeted compared to men. Many of the incidents involve verbal harassment and being “rubbed up against” in a sexual manner.
Washington Code: Sexual Assault
The state defines sexual assault as rape, acts of intended rape, or incest. It may be an act involving the molestation of, or other sexually-related misconduct with a minor. It may involve exploitation such as sexual abuse or through the promotion of prostitution. Acts of sexual contact involve any form of touching that is intended to derive sexual gratification.
Washington Code: Indecent Exposure
Acts of indecent exposure are intentionally committed acts of obscenity. Perpetrators act with the knowledge that their behavior is likely to create “reasonable affront or alarm.” The offense is a gross misdemeanor when an individual exposes themselves to someone less than 14 years old. Those with a prior related offense may be charged with a class C felony.
Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney
Steve Karimi is a seasoned defense lawyer that represents clients who are faced with allegations of criminal behavior. Mr. Karimi provides highly effective legal representation that seeks to protect the rights and freedom of those accused of misconduct. Contact the office today for a case evaluation at (206) 621-8777.