“What I Learned From Reporting Sexual Harassment on Metro.”

Location: Green Line, L’Enfant Plaza (Metro/WMATA)
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

Yesterday around 12:45pm I witnessed a very large man (6’4″, 250 lbs.) rapping/singing as he approached two young women on the train. He sat down on their armrest, ran his fingers through their hair, across their faces, shoulders, neck etc. while asking questions like “So do you spit or swallow?” You get the picture.

The women tried pushing his hand away each time he reached for them, but he was able to grab them anyway. The train was mostly full, and no one said a word or acknowledged what was happening. Eventually the sexual harassment got so blatant that an elderly woman sitting adjacent to them warned the man that “She’ll call the cops if you don’t stop!”

He more or less ignored the warning, moved back one row, and occupied the empty seat next to a young woman sitting by the window. In no time, he was all over her too. I started to press the red emergency call button on the train to summon police, but I remembered the recent Post article about how train operators have been disabling those buttons. So I noted the train car #, got off at the next stop (Archives/Navy Memorial), went right to the station manager’s booth and urgently told him to call the police and send them to that car, explaining how the guy was groping women with impunity.

What I Learned From Reporting Sexual Harassment on DC Metro/WMATA
Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. You can do so anonymously!

The Metro employee in the booth nodded, closed the booth door he had opened to hear my plea, and promptly went back to whatever he was doing(!!!) I stuck around in case he wanted me to give him the suspect’s description, but no — that was the end of that. The guy in the station manager’s booth apparently had better things to do. I was fuming.

About 15 minutes later, I called Metro Transit Police and asked if they received any call from the Archives/Navy Memorial station. I was put on hold while they checked with the police dispatcher… and no, no such report had come in. This was the first the police had heard of it. Metro Transit Police then put me on hold once more while they called the Archives/Navy Memorial station manager to inquire. When the MTP officer came back on the line with me, she said the station manager had just told her that “No one at the station remembers anyone reporting anything.” So apparently, only 20 minutes after I practically begged the Metro employee to call the cops, he developed a case of amnesia. Interesting.

My next call was to Metro Customer Assistance to report this WTF situation. The customer service rep was pleasant, said “We take sexual harassment issues very seriously,” and that she’d tell the Archives/Navy Memorial station’s supervisor to look into the matter. “Will there be any follow up I can expect?” I asked her. Not really, was the response. These are personnel matters and can’t be disclosed. (sigh)

So the moral of the story– if you’re on the metro and need police, CALL THEM DIRECTLY. Reporting harassment to Metro employees might get you nowhere.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 7/30/13 by “RM.”


WMATA is currently in the process of completing the next step of its anti-harassment campaign — conducting all all-staff training on responding to sexual harassment and assault — that we helped push them to implement in 2012. Until that training is complete (we’ll keep you posted!), WMATA continues to advise folks to report incidents directly to the harassment portal and Metro Transit Police; www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121; rather than station managers or other employees who might not be trained.

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: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. Recommended tip: Program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

2 Responses

  1. Tired of Harrassment

    Is that the mentally insane walk among us or is it that they are being raised and educated to not give a dam about women? which is it, because harassment is an epidemic in this country, as is rape culture, but our stupid government does not seem to think there is a problem and just keeps the same course of repressive policies designed to keep women out of public office, out of forming policies to prevent abuses at all levels. The latest money grab is about shutting down mental health services, instead of repealing tax cuts for the rich, GOP just doing what they do best, rob every ones well being.

  2. Caroline Lukas

    Thank you for posting this entry. We do take reports of sexual assault and harassment very seriously and we are working on ensuring that these types of situations don’t happen in the future.

    We do encourage anyone who is the victim of, or witnesses, any form of sexual assault or harassment to report it to MTPD directly. There are several ways to do this, as CASS stated above:

    By calling MTPD at 202.962.2121 – we recommend saving this number on your smartphone.
    Emailing harassment@wmata.com or by using our online web portal at http://www.wmata.com/harassment

    Caroline Lukas
    Co-Chair, Sexual Harassment Task Force