State senator pushes to make subway groping, grinding felonies

NEW YORK (WABC) -- In the crush of a crowded rush hour train it could be forcible touching, an unwanted grope or disgusting grinding, all crimes that according to one state senator seemingly gets the predator a slap on the wrist.

"We have all experienced that and unfortunately these predators get away with it because the law allows them to," said State Senator Diane Savino, (D) Staten Island and Brooklyn.

State Senator Savino is again pushing through the Albany legislature a bill that would make the crime a felony, with penalties more severe, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Reaction from riders is swift.

"I think they should be charged," a rider said.

"And punished more severely?" Eyewitness News Reporter Tim Fleischer said.

"Of course," the rider said.

More proof, the senator believes, is in her report which shows the number of sex crimes on subways has increased 51-percent over the last three years.

In the past two years, public lewdness, sexual abuse and forcible touching has also increased.

"I can imagine. I can imagine. For me it was years ago," said Shanelle Holly, a subway rider.

Holly says she was groped on the train and agrees with more severe penalties.

"I think it should be tougher rules on it and laws on it because things like this happen on a regular basis," Holly said.

On Wednesday night, a special Guardian Angel patrol on the subway is looking for a man, suspected of lewd behavior.

"He gets arrested and hit with a misdemeanor only to come out and do it all over again. Where as if he did the same crime above ground in the streets he gets charged with a felony," said Curtis Sliwa, Guardian Angel leader.

The proposed law has failed to pass the last three years, but the hope among riders is that now is the right time.
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