A peeping Tom used this stairway on the Ditmars Boulevard N/R station to look up women’s skirts. Councilman Peter Vallone is sponsoring legislation that would crackdown on such behavior.
By John DeSio
The City’s perverts have long looked to our transit system for a cheap thrill. Sometimes it’s a gaze that lingers too long on a lady riding the subway. The bolder lowlifes walking among us will choose to just rub up against a female rider on a crowded train, something way more women than should have experienced.
And then there is the more extreme example of Dan Hoyt, the raw foods chef who last year was sentenced to two years probation after he was caught playing with his junk on the R train one evening.
Hoyt was caught because a quick thinking female passenger snapped his picture using her cell phone camera. But some perverts are a bit tougher to catch. Such is the case with one man who spent the Summer lurking near the N/R Ditmars Boulevard station in Astoria. He would park his car near the elevated train exits, casually drinking a cup of coffee, until a skirt-wearing female would exit the train and begin her walk down the steps. He would then approach the stairs and look up her skirt, a move he pulled time and time again.
The complaints piled up in the office of City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., whose office sits right next to the subway station. But when Vallone inquired about arresting the man for something, anything, related to his brazenly lewd conduct he learned nothing could be done. No law exists to prevent such creepy activity, provided the offender uses only his naked eye.
Vallone, who is chair of the City Council’s public safety committee, will hold hearings this morning on a bill he has crafted that seeks to make such wanton acts of pervality illegal. As it stands today peeping is illegal if the offender uses an electronic device to peep. Vallone’s law would go after two kinds of deviants: someone who would drill a hole in a wall to snoop into a changing room and the aforementioned staircases stare-master.
At the subway stop outside of Vallone’s office, women agree with the spirit of the law but wonder if it could ever really be enforced. “As a woman, you kinda don’t feel so great about that,” said one woman when told about what was going on at her train station. “There are a lot of unpleasant things about living in New York and being a woman.” But she wondered if anyone could ever be arrested under the proposed law. It’s easy to see a camera in a man’s hand. But everyone has eyes, and who knows which way they’re looking.
Vallone said he understood those concerns, and has written the law to be as specific as possible. “I’m not looking to go after innocent conduct, or even more despicable conduct that would be legal anyway,” said Vallone. “We crafted this in a way to focus on only the worst perverts.”
For example, a provision that would have made it illegal to look from one’s own window into another window was taken out of the bill while it was being written. As creepy as it might be to have someone peer through their window at you, making that illegal would bring up a whole host of other issues and could make harmless conduct a crime, said Vallone.
“It’s a very controversial bill,” said Vallone, noting that he understood civil rights concerns surrounding the law and adding that he was unsure it would pass. As for the coffee drinking, skirt staring man who inspired the bill, Vallone said that during his initial media push on the bill in August a local news broadcast visited the aforementioned peeper at his home, using his license plate number as a guide. He came back to Ditmars one time, said the council member, but hasn’t been seen since.
“Maybe he found another station,” said Vallone.