Sadly, many individuals living in New York City develop sexual compulsions that cause them to rub or grind strangers on the subway system. These frotteurs can be high-functioning professionals that simply need therapy. Just as sadly, though, some individuals are wrongly accused by NYC police officers of serious sexual offenses despite having done nothing more than simply try to get to work on a very crowded train. Both of these categories of individuals need experienced criminal defense representation, as the consequences of these charges can be very serious and have lifelong effects on one’s family situation, future, and employment prospects. The most common criminal charges for this sort of behavior include Forcible Touching (Penal Law 130.52, a Class A misdemeanor), Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree (Penal Law 130.55, a Class B misdemeanor), and Public Lewdness (Penal Law 245.00, a Class B misdemeanor). Our office has defended several individuals accused of these sorts of crimes, and have been successful in either obtaining dismissals or avoiding criminal convictions in exchange for treatment and therapy.
These arrests usually arise in one of two ways. Sometimes a complaining witness notices that they are being touched unlawfully or unusually and alerts a nearby policeman. In those cases, an identification of the arrested person by the complaining witness and an affidavit from the complaining witness are typically necessary to pursue the case in criminal court. Surprisingly though, it is probably more common for the arrests to come as a result of undercover police officers witnessing the acts themselves. The Transit police have undercover officers trained and assigned to identify, follow, and monitor people that they suspect of being on the hunt for victims to sexually abuse or touch in the train system. Typically, these undercover officers are looking for men that are following women in the system, standing on the platform ignoring trains (while waiting for a train that they notice may be carrying vulnerable targets), or “looping” up and down the system (meaning, they travel uptown for a few stations and then travel back downtown in an effort to find a victim). In these cases, affidavits or testimony from the victims of the sexual abuse might not even be necessary.
These arrests cannot be taken lightly as even misdemeanor convictions for the crime of Forcible Touching potentially carry prison sentences of up to one year. Convictions on these charges can also potentially result in registration as a sex offender, which can be extremely onerous and embarrassing. Furthermore, repeat offenders can be charged with the Class E felony of Persistent Sexual Abuse (Penal Law 130.53) and receive state prison sentences. Accordingly, if you or a loved one have been arrested or issued a Desk Appearance Ticket and accused of Forcible Touching or Sexual Abuse on the subway, you should strongly consider immediately contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor with a track record of success in these matters.