Is New York City the city that doesn’t protect?

She was attacked in full view of a subway clerk. She was then dragged onto a deserted platform and repeatedly raped. A subway train pulled into the station, her attacker did not stop. Four years ago Maria was attacked and no one lifted a hand.
Maria, a young New Yorker, now deals with nightmares, depression and anxiety. She was told by a judge that the two transit workers that watched the attack happen were not in the wrong. They didn’t have to do anything other than alert their superiors that the police were needed.

Maria Besedin dropped out of school after the attack. She now lives with her parents in Rhode Island.

The New York Daily
quotes the young woman:

“I really lost four years of my life suffering from this,” she said in her lawyer’s office.

“Everything – my hopes and dreams to go to grad school, to write, and help others – has just been undermined by this.”

MSNBC reports:

“Hearing the decision about the case — it broke my heart. It really broke my heart,” the 26-year-old told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Wednesday in an exclusive broadcast interview in New York. “I was really hoping that changes would be made, that other women taking the subway out there could feel safe and secure. The subway is raising their fares and spending even less money on security.”

While Maria didn’t expect anyone to put themselves in harm’s way she did expect at least a shout on the intercom to startle the man attacking her.

Maria told Meredith Vieira this morning:

“He could have just gotten over the intercom and said, ‘Hey! Stop what you’re doing! I’ve called the cops!’ Anything like that would have helped,” she said. “He didn’t have to get out of the booth. I don’t expect him to be a police officer. But he could have definitely said something over the intercom, or perhaps having a quicker system of notifying the police would have been effective, too.”

Young Maria was going to celebrate her birthday the day after the attack. A native of Russia, the then 22-year-old was a grad of NYU at the time of the attack. she was planning on taking the Queens-bound G train to see her boyfriend that early morning at around 2 AM.

Her world changed on July 7, 2005.

She was on the train and someone was touching her feet. Looking around there was no one that could be able to do that, as the only other person on the train wasn’t in a position to do so.

As the train pulled into her stop she again was touched and turned to yell at the person. She missed her spot.

Maria got off the train at the next station, 21st Street in Long Island City, Queens. She ran for the staircase hoping to flee the one who had touched her. She almost made it to the clerk at the attendant’s booth when her attacker nabbed her. He then started to carry her back to the deserted platform.

She told the judge that the clerk and her held at least five seconds of solid eye contact. She thought that would help her. She was wrong.

The clerk did push a button notified the central command to send the police.

In own words what followed was horrific.

“After he pulled me down the stairs, he proceeded to rape me at the bottom of the stairwell,” Maria said. “I was screaming and crying and begging him to stop. He said, ‘If you continue screaming, I’m going to have to do something.’ I couldn’t stop crying, so then he took me by the scruff of my neck and my jacket and put me over the tracks, like a 45-degree angle, and said, ‘Don’t scream again or I’m going to let go.’ ”

The conductor of a train that pulled in and departed also held eye contact with the young woman. He didn’t stop.

The judge at the civil trial ruled that the clerk and conductor “had taken prompt and decisive action.”

The MTA has issued a statement about the case.

“It is important to note that while NYC Transit workers are trained to the highest degree of professionalism in their assigned jobs, they are not and should not be expected to perform in the capacity of law enforcement officers.”

The police finally arrived. The attack ran from the station and has never been caught.

Maria is still in therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Telling her story though has proved to be therapeutic.

“The most important thing for me was breaking the silence and telling my story, because it was just haunting me and eating away at me. I was kind of a zombie, walking around with this enormous weight on my shoulders and blaming myself,” Maria said. “The more I got to speak out about my story, the better I felt. The most wonderful thing was that other women would start to come forward about their own stories that they had never told anyone else.”

Maria’s lawyer, Marc Albert said that they are planning to appeal.

“We’re going to appeal,” Albert said. “The transit authority claimed to be training their workers. There’s no training going on here and there’s no system in place. We certainly will be appealing.”

When Judge Kevin Kerrigan dismissed the case he may have been correct technically. However the system is flawed when this kind of attack can happen and no one steps in to help.

The New York Daily
quotes Maria on her plans to appeal.

“Yes, I do want justice,” said Besedin, who still rides the subway.

As for the court system that rejected her case, she said, “It means that they don’t really understand exactly what negligence is and what the impact . . . this kind of atrocious thing can have,” she said.

“I’m sorry, I just don’t think they get it.”


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