“I reported a man masturbating on Metro to WMATA — and officials did nothing.”

posted in: WMATA | 3

Location:  Metro – Red Line Between Forest Glen & Wheaton
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

I was riding home around 10 PM last November and was sitting two seats away from an end door on the right side of the car. Caddy-corner to me was a girl a little younger than myself, maybe 20. Across from her, at the end of the car where the random half-wall shows up on some of the older model cars, was an older man. Around the Silver Spring station I noticed that the man was in constant motion – not walking or standing, but he was just constantly moving and staring at me. I couldn’t figure out why until I finally realized that he was quickly rubbing his erect penis, which (due to the angle I was at, I could see) out and full-monty. I was shocked and disgusted.

WMATA PSA urging riders to report sexual harassment. CASS advocated WMATA to implement the PSAs in 2012.

I tried to take a photo of the man’s face with my phone (sneakily) but I was having phone problems. So, by Forest Glen, I got up and spoke to the girl and told her that there was a man staring and being totally disgusting, and that she should get up and walk to the other side of the car with me. She did, and I got off at Wheaton, the next stop. As soon as the doors opened, I sprinted to the front of the train. The operator saw me running and yelled at me to hurry, but he did wait for me. As soon as I was close enough I gave him the number of the car, the location of the offender, and as brief a description of the man’s activities as I could manage. I’d hoped that the operator could radio ahead to Glenmont and have some Metro cops waiting for them there. He said “I got it,” and the train rode off. It took a few minutes to get out of the tunnel (the Wheaton escalator is extremely long) but once I got to the top I told the station manager what had happened, just in case. She said “Okay, I’m sure they got it if you told the train operator.” No one requested to take my name or contact information. I went home.

A few days later, I tweeted to Metro asking if anything had happened as a result of my complaint. After a rude back and forth, at which point metro informed me “Ma’am I am not the police,” I called the Metro police, but no one had a clue as to what I was talking about. As far as anyone could tell, it had never been reported.I even checked the Metro crime beat when it came out the following month – no report of the crime I had reported, which means the train operator and the station manager didn’t do a thing about it. I don’t know what other options I had – no phone service, shoddy phone, no Metro police around. I told two Metro employees hoping that was the correct course of action. I was wrong.

I’d like to say this sort of thing is an isolated incident, but it is in fact only the worst of the three sexual harassment experiences I have had in the three years of riding Metro.

Submitted on 1/7/13 by “Meghan”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault?
Submit your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system:
Please consider reporting to Metro Transit Police: www.wmata.com/harassment; 202-962-2121.

3 Responses

  1. Caroline Lukas

    Hi Meghan,
    I’m very sorry you had this experience – both in what you witnessed on the train and the interactions you had thereafter. If you are able and willing, I encourage you to go online to http://www.wmata.com/harassment and make an official report. While it is too late to catch this individual in the act, it is still beneficial for MTPD to have record of this perpetrator. It helps us identify patterns and can assist us down the road should he strike again. I know your experience might lead you to believe otherwise, but we do take these situations seriously and I’m disappointed that yours was handled in this manner. I encourage you to contact me directly at cllukas@wmata.com to discuss this further. I’m the co-chair of our sexual harassment task force and feel there are lessons we could learn here in order to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

    Caroline Lukas
    Metro Media Relations

    • Meghan

      Ms. Lukas,

      Thank you so much for your response – I’m so pleased to see that you guys are reading about these experiences and being proactive about trying to address them now. I will absolutely do as you have recommended, and will be in touch.

      Again, thank you.

  2. renee

    Thanks very much, Caroline, for offering your assistance. Meghan, we send our condolences and are glad you shared your story. We at CASS urge all Metro riders to report any incidents of harassment. You can read more here: http://www.collectiveactiondc.org/programs/wmata-anti-sexual-harassment-campaign/ and here: http://www.collectiveactiondc.org/resources/three-ways-to-report-to-wmata/