New York

New Legislation Will Make Subway Fondling a Felony (Because It Wasn’t Before That?)


You may have heard what has been called “subway grinding.” On the subway, there is a sign that warns, “Sexual harassment is a crime in the subway, too. A crowded train is no excuse for an improper touch.” The inclusion of the “too” in the first sentence always confused me; are we to assume that once you go underground, all rules of morality are tossed out the window? As if we needed to be reminded that the subway platform is not a wasteland of ethics and actual law and order does exist on those tracks.

Not really but, in legal terms, kinda. In a Court of Appeals ruling from two years ago, a loophole granted lenient penalties for those who commit “subway grinding.” And, for the thousand of complaints that the NYPD receives a year in regards to its practice, that doesn’t make a cent of sense. Especially because, above ground, most acts of sexual harassment are automatic felonies. So that subway sign was right in a horrible way.

Well, that loophole might be plugged up soon enough.

In a bill proposed by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, State Senator Diane Servino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, that “subway grinding” act would get slapped on the wrist with a Class B felony charge and possible jail time. In a conference, de Blasio said,

“The current law says it’s only sexual violation if the woman is being restrained physically. But listen to what happens on the subways every day. A woman literally can’t move. There’s too many people in the subway, you can’t even move, even if something horrible is happening. So it is the same effect as being held down.”

Now, sexual harassment will really be a crime in the subway, too. Take that, straphanger perverts.

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