State senate passes Savino ‘subway grinder’ bill

Legislation would make lewd acts a felony

June 9, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This chart shows the rise in sex-related crimes reported in the New York City subway system. Image courtesy of state Sen. Diane Savino’s office
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Riders have a tough enough time dealing with delays and crowded trains in the subway, they shouldn’t have to put up with perverts performing lewd acts, said a state senator who is going after the so-called grinders.

Democrat Diane Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst-Staten Island) is the sponsor of a bill the senate passed 58-4 on June 7 that would make forcible touching on public transportation would become a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. The crime currently carries a misdemeanor penalty of one year in prison. Most offenders wind up with little to no jail time, Savino said.

The bill would also increase the criminal penalty for an act of public lewdness on public transportation from three months to one year in prison.

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On June 6, Savino released a report, “Perverted Justice: How Subway Grinders Continue to Victimize New Yorkers,” which examines the increase in sex crimes on the city’s subway system since 2014.

Reports of sex crimes on the subway, known as “grinding,” are on the rise by more than 51.7 percent over a three year period, the report found. “Subway grinders” creep up to victims on crowded subway cars and rub against them.

“Subway grinding and lewdness are serious sex crimes meant to threaten and humiliate victims,” Savino said in a statement.

The report also found an increase in incidents of forcible touching from 2015 to 2016, as well as an increase in public lewdness.

Savino noted with frustration that this wasn’t the first time the state Senate has passed her bill. The legislation has yet to win the state Assembly’s approval.

“While we pass my legislation over and over again, it’s horrifying these disgusting crimes are not met with appropriate punishment because the Assembly fails to protect straphangers. Without tougher penalties in place, serial offenders will continue to victimize passengers on the train and this issue must be taken seriously,” she stated.

In recent years, MTA has made it easier to report sex crimes on the transit system, creating an online page that allows victims to report incidents and upload photos or audio files.

And the report released by Savino did find that there has been a significant increase in reports since 2014, when victims reported 620 sex crimes. In 2015, 738 incidents were reported and in 2016, there were 941.

There has also been a 9 percent increase in the number of incidents reported between Jan. 1 and May 28, 2017, as compared to the same time period last year, Savino said.

Most of the suspects turn out to be repeat offenders who evade prosecution altogether or serve minimal jail time, according to Savino, who said that as a result, they continue to victimize subway passengers.

Savino’s report can be found here


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