Attacker charged in SEPTA assault

July 24, 2009 8:50:27 PM PDT
Police have charged David Kaplan in the sexual assault of a woman on a train. 39-year-old Kaplan from the 1800 block of Cottman Avenue is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful restraint, and related charges in reference to the assault that occurred on July 23, 2009, in the 5200 block of Frankford Avenue.

"He has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated indecent assault, simple assault," Captain John Darby of Philadelphia Special Victims said. Kaplan was picked up at Rising Sun Avenue near Longshore Avenue around the noon hour after somebody reported seeing a man with a knife.

When officers from the 2nd District arrived, they found a man who looked a lot like the sketch of the person sought in the assault.

Police brought Kaplan in for questioning and the victim identified him as the attacker.

The incident happened as a 22-year-old woman and her baby boarded the SEPTA Market El at Bridge and Pratt Streets around lunchtime Thursday. Kaplan sat down next to her.

"She had a small child with her, the male took advantage of that, put her in fear of harms way and her baby," Captain Darby said.

Police say Kaplan put a knife to the woman's side and began sexually assaulting her. He continued to assault her as she held her baby in her lap.

Police say other passengers were on the train and likely didn't realize what was happening. The knife was concealed against her side.

When the train reached SEPTA's 8th and Market station, Kaplan got off and told the woman to walk one way and he went in the opposite direction. Police searched the area but didn't find him.

Sources say the suspect uses the El and SEPTA buses often to get to and from West Philadelphia to get methadone treatments.

Merchants on the 1800 block of Cottman say he would often be seen begging passerbys for money even as late as 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.

Police are looking to see if Kaplan is linked to other sexual assaults.