Charges filed in subway concourse sexual assault

March 7, 2013 6:42:39 PM PST
A Philadelphia man is charged in the alleged sexual assault and robbery of a woman on a subway concourse in Center City.

Police say it was 11:57 p.m. Wednesday when the 54-year-old victim was waiting for a train in the concourse area of 15th and Market Streets after having just left a local restaurant at 9th and Walnut Streets.

While waiting for the train, a man allegedly approached the woman and grabbed her.

A struggle ensued, during which police say the attacker pushed the woman to the ground, took $87 cash and a cell phone from the woman before forcefully sexually assaulting her.

SEPTA police responded to the scene, and after speaking with the victim they found a male fitting the description of the suspect and took the man into custody.

The suspect is identified as 42-year-old Rafiq Smith of the 5600 block of Ogontz Avenue.

Smith is charged with Rape, Robbery, Sexual Assault, Theft, Simple Assault and related offenses.

SEPTA spokesperson Jerri Williams released a statement disputing the Philadelphia Police Department's version of events, saying the alleged assault did not take place on SEPTA property:

A news release issued by the Philadelphia Police Department today indicated that a female was sexually assaulted and robbed by an unknown male while waiting for a train at 15th and Market. This information is inaccurate.

SEPTA surveillance cameras show the woman and her alleged assailant together at approximately 10:31 pm attempting to access the Market-Frankford Line at 15th Street Station. They were denied entry by the cashier. The surveillance cameras then capture the woman and the male leaving the area and walking towards Suburban Station. Based on a thorough review of the extensive camera system in the Market-Frankford concourse area, it is believed that the couple never entered the paid area to wait for a train.

At 11:46 pm, the woman arrives alone at 12th & Market and reports the alleged attack to SEPTA Transit Police. The actual location of the alleged attack has not been determined, but it did not occur on the SEPTA transit system.

The Philadelphia Police Department has been requested to distribute another media release regarding this incident with the correct information, locations and times.

Police are continuing their investigation.