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What to do about wankers and flashers

Recently I've gotten a lot of mail and comments from female readers complaining about weirdos and perverts who expose themselves and masturbate in front of them. From what I can tell, this is a very common occurrence that has happened to many -- if not most -- women riders.

So what's a woman to do when this happens to her? I asked the CTA brass.

The most important thing to do is report the incident. Here's advice from the CTA's Noelle Gaffney, VP of Communications:

"I would advise that if they are on the train they should push the alert button (under the blue light) and alert the rail operator.  If for some reason they are not comfortable doing that, then I would recommend  they exit at the next stop and report it to the operator (while the train is in the station) or to the customer assistant.  Let them know the number of the rail car (on the inside it appears above the doors at either end of the car, and on the exterior it appears on the side of the car, toward the end) and a description of the person."

Gaffney also checked with the CTA's general manager of security,  a former police official. He also stressed the importance reporting all such instances to the CTA or police.   

"When they have reports and know when and where incidents are occurring, they can map  them and study them for patterns," said Gaffney. "Our security can work with police on deployment of officers, who may be plainclothes or uniformed, depending on the situation.  If we find that any of the culprits are registered sex offenders, our Law Department will institute steps to ban them from the CTA system."

Bottom line: If you see something, say something.


Well I certainly hope Gaffney's comments indicate a change in policy for the CTA, because that's not my experience. About 10 years ago (back when they still had conductors on the train) I got groped on a Sunday morning on the Red Line. I got off at Fullerton, and notified the conductor in the next car. He looked at me and said, "So what do you want me to do about it?" Then he closed the doors and the train rolled away. The people operating the train want to keep it moving, and they're not going to police gropers.

I read a news story a few years ago about such an incident in the New York subway. The woman took a picture of the man with her camera phone and got off at the next stop. She then showed the nearest police officer the picture, and they have put the picture (cropped of course) on line to try and capture the perp. Sounds like a good strategy to me.

This actually happened to me for the very first time not too long ago -- over ten years of riding the train; I was starting to feel like a loser that nobody wanted to be perverted around! Anyways, I was knitting a sock at the time and almost didn't notice, except I dropped a stitch and changed the angle of my head briefly to look at my knitting more closely. I didn't acknowledge him in any way and actually it didn't even register for a minute (because I was all about saving my knitting; I have my priorities). After I failed to pay attention, he moved over to the other side of the car and exposed himself to the bored, half-asleep uniformed worker the next seat over, and she failed to notice or to care, as well, apparently. He zipped his pants back up and got off at the next stop.

I like to think that our failure to pay any attention to him made him too sad to continue his, um, interests.

The best response I've found--I mean if you want the perv to stop what he's doing that minute--is to call attention to his behavior loudly so everyone in the car is aware of what's going on. This is particularly important if he's actually touching you and not merely flashing you. Yeah, report it, but get him to stop first.

Pat, a similar incident hap'd to me on the Red Line one morning. I noticed a man exposing himself to me and a child. I got up and pressed the emergency button under the blue light but it did not work. Then I got off the train and ran to a CTA employee standing on the platform. She ignored me even though I was screaming about this man right in her face. Next I ran up to the person operating the train while the doors were still open. That lady ignored me as well. Next I told her I was calling the police, and the train operator got REALLY ANGRY and said I was holding up her train for nothing. The police came and did nothing & the man got away. He obviously was watching and could tell he was about to go to jail. Rather than sit there and wait to be locked up, he blended into the crowd and walked off. I didn't understand it. The cop was on the platform before the train arrived, so why didn't he make an effort to catch the perv? All in all, everybody was mad at me for "saying something" (like the CTA tells you to do). I wrote this all down as soon as I got to work & mailed the incident in detail to Frank whats-his-name with no response. That was just a really fucked up morning.

This is a great idea, but here's the problem--the CTA drivers/conductors at this point are not on the same page as management. Some jerk tried to touch me a few weeks ago. I told him to F off and get away from me. He did. I thought for a second about pushing the emergency button, but stopped. It would probably take the driver about 10 minutes to amble back, and once they got there the guy would be gone. It was totally not worth my or the other riders time to report the guy.
I agree w/ management that when people touch you inappropriately on the CTA, they should be reportered and theconductor should move quickly to address the situation. But the sad reality is that 97 percent of the time that doesn't happen.

Note to Nosy and others reluctant to report these incidents, or who have reported them and are not satisfied with the rude treatment received from CTA employees:

First -- Reporting these incidents won't necessarily result in the apprehension of these criminals. But it will result in a log entry being made of your complaint. With that entry made police can look for trends on where it's happening and target policing efforts there.

Second -- Frankly, I think it's most important to report these incidents to the police. After all, it IS a criminal act. And it's the police with the resources to actually do something about this, not the CTA.

Finally -- If you are unhappy with an encounter with a surly or rude CTA employee, contact the CTA and tell them about it. If you don't know the person's name, give the CTA enough info to track the person down -- "he was motorman on Red Line north that stopped at Belmont at 5:05 pm." If we don't ID these people, they will continue to be rude and surly.

It SEEMS that many of the CTA employees do it all the time, ROFL!!!!!.

Using the cellphone camera is excellent. So is yelling and pointing.

Best of all is carrying a large scissors to threaten the offending anatomy with.

We put ourselves at risk when we report things--and almost always to no avail. Is it at all reassuring to think, "They can make a record of this crime for analyzing patterns," when we are the ones seen by the criminal, perhaps followed home, or remembered and targeted later? The bottom line is that the CTA doesn't do enough to protect us from wankers, flashers, scammers, etc, because providing security is something that costs money without increasing revenue.

Regarding wankers, my friend will announce the activity to the whole car, and that's worked so far.

I'm not terribly worried about a wanker following me home, out for revenge. That's kind of like being frightened of a pickpocket or a purse snatcher.

Why not combine loud attention with cell phone cameras? Loudly announce to the whole car, "Attention everyone. There's a pervert on the car. Would EVERYONE with cell phones with cameras PLEASE take THAT man's picture so we can report him to the Police?"

Cheryl, you miss the point so I'll be clearer. We pay for CTA through our fares and taxes. We have a right to expect a certain level of safety and service. CTA does not provide sufficiently provide either; why do individual riders who are targeted by criminals have to take the responsibility to provide evidence so that maybe, one day, CTA or the police will do something, maybe?

Of course, you still can if it entertains you. You city girls are so tough.

Madre, I think you missed my point also. These guys aren't the type of criminal to get violent with someone who resists their moves. They're much more likely to run away than to pull out a gun or a knife. Kind of like pickpockets or purse snatchers as opposed to someone out to rob a bank.

First of all - take care of your personal safety first, and do what is nec. (get away, report, etc.)

but... if truly you're truly brazen. Point and laugh LOUD at the creep. Throw in a "I've seen bigger on babies" Ahh, nothing like a swipe at the ego.

I love the "baby" comment so much I will amend my original idea to.....Why not combine loud attention and insulting humor with cell phone cameras? Loudly announce to the whole car, "Attention everyone. There's a pervert on the car. Would EVERYONE with cell phones with cameras PLEASE take a photo of that man's teenie weenie so we can report him to the Police as well as post that itsy bitsy wiener on the internet...and be SURE to include his face in the photo!"

hELLO, I am praying sum one can help me I am searching for a past or present worker of C.t.a green line train. the route would have been from harlem and lake to 63rd st.

I am looking for "mike d" He is an african american male in his late 30's to early 40's !!!! I have not spoke with him since 2003 . I don't no if he is still an employee!!!!!!!! It is dear life that I reach him!!!!!! If You no this man Or may have worked w/ him or no anyone who may no him please feel free to contact me or leave me a message serious replies only !!!!!!!!

please this is an emergency!!!!!!!!

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