Upskirting at Courthouse Metro

Photo taken by Erica

Yesterday this happened:

Today, as I was emerging from the Court House Metro Station, a man got uncomfortably close behind me on the escalator. I had headphones on, but even so, I heard the familiar fake shutter-click of an obnoxious phone camera, then felt the unmistakable grab of a stranger’s hand under my skirt. I turned around (we were at the top of the escalator now), yelled “WHAT DID YOU DO? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THIS ASSHOLE JUST TOOK A PICTURE UP MY SKIRT AND GRABBED ME!” as loudly as I could. He tried to push past me and I hit him as hard as I could in the shoulder (he was a big guy, he barely felt it). He smiled that horrible-dude “I can do whatever I want” smile and leisurely jogged away, holding his phone. I was crying at this point, just feeling powerless and awful. There were tons of people around since this was at 8:30 AM in Arlington. No one even looked up as I was yelling at him that I could tell, but I don’t know what I would do in that situation either. A nicely dressed older woman walked past me, and I said through my tears “That person just took a picture up my skirt and grabbed me, what should I do?” and she shook her head and walked on. I sat on a bench and cried for a while, got a cup of coffee, called my sister, and went to work.

TODAY:
I was getting off at the same Metro station at the same time (about 8:15) AM, and saw him. I should also say that yesterday I filed a report with the Arlington Police Department, and even though they pretty much said they couldn’t do anything until more people reported him, I’m VERY glad I did. Today, as I was riding up the escalator at Court House, I SAW him. This time, I got a GOOOOOOD look at him, and took a picture, though I could only get a profile shot. He recognized me and pulled his hat over his face. He turned toward the Courthouse exit from the station. I went and told a very helpful female WMATA employee (I think she was the station manager on duty, at the kiosk) and she said he looks like the person who has been standing at the bottom of the escalators looking up girls’ skirts as they go up.

He is about 5’8″, Latino, in his late twenties I believe. Both times I’ve seen him he’s worn a Tshirt, paint-spattered jeans, tan work boots with paint on them, and a baseball cap. He clearly recognized me and was trying to hide.

The WMATA employee called the Metro Transit Police and I talked to an officer about what happened. He said that because I already filed a report with Arlington police, that he didn’t want to double file a report, but that if I EVER SAW HIM AGAIN, or if ANYONE IS HARASSED OR ASSAULTED BY HIM, to report it immediately.

The man I talked to at Arlington PD also said something really helpful that I wish I had known. I think that the way we are brought up as a culture is to not cause a scene, because we’re worried everyone will think we’re overreacting. That’s absolutely why it took me a few hours to file a report yesterday even though I was clearly ASSAULTED. The officer I spoke with said that it is not your responsibility to decide if something is worthy of police attention or not, that you always have the right to call the police if you feel unsafe.

If you are harassed or assaulted by this man or anyone, please please please report it as soon as possible. There is absolutely strength in numbers in situations like these.

I’m also emailing a photo from my phone.

Submitted by Erica on 5/27/2010

Location: Court House Metro Station

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

32 responses to “Upskirting at Courthouse Metro

  1. Golden Silence

    Erica, I originally saw your story on iMetro and once again commend you for having the guts to share your story. That photo is loud and clear to me and I hope this guy gets taken off the streets soon. I don’t know what disgusts me more—his creepy actions or the inaction/lack of concern of those who witnessed this.

  2. A similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I’ll make sure to report him the next time I see him.

  3. This is why I carry 18% wildfire pepper spray with me every where I go now. I carry a little something extra too, but I’ll keep that to myself. Anyways, I have had guys think that they can touch me here and there and the thing is that women aren’t stronger than men…on average. That’s why you carry a little somethng (i.e. pepper spray) and then proceed to call the police afterwards. Hey, he attacked you and he should pay for it….

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  5. Your picture was a little hard to see so I adjusted it a bit: http://img.skitch.com/20100601-rq5dhmpx42n58uty69qxcb163d.jpg

  6. skirting the law

    Oh, c’mon, lighten up — why so uptight about a guy taking a pic of your panties? Upskirting is practically a national sport in Japan.

  7. It's never okay

    Erica- You definitely did the right thing by reporting this crime. Several weeks ago I had a man come up behind me and shove his hand up my dress. This is sexual assault and it is not acceptable. And for the “lighten up” poster, it doesn’t matter who else does it or how much – it is wrong and a crime…period.

  8. What a sick fuck. Suggestion… don’t punch people is the shoulder. Punch them in the throat, or poke them in the eye. And not a pull-back poke, jam it deep.

    “who assaulted you miss?”
    “the guy with the missing eye”

  9. I’m with db here, the shoulder? Next time go for the gusto.

    Throat, crotch, or just kick him as hard as you can in the chest so he falls backward down the escalator…then when you filed the report you could tell the cops to look for the man with the broken legs at the bottom of the Courthouse escalator.

  10. Two things:

    1. Skirting the Law – You’re a flaming asshole, a coward, and deserve to be beaten within an inch of your miserable life. Fuck you gently with a rusty chainsaw.

    2. Snaps to the Arlington Po-Po – That’s exactly how I would want my Wife, Mother, Sister, or Daughter treated in a similar circumstance. Thanks for knowing your job and not being a sexist asshole.

  11. Also a good reminder why you should never be walking around the city listening to your iPod. You are not as aware of your surroundings (traffic, potential harrassers, muggers, etc.) when you are listening to music and more likely to be targeted.

    • Anon, she is not responsible for monitoring every person within a 50-yard radius to see if they’re going to take a picture up her skirt. She doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head — should she stand backward while going up the escalator, to see if something like this will happen? I’ve been assaulted on the Metro while I was perfectly aware and not listening to music. We need to stop blaming VICTIMS when stuff like this happens to them.

      • PR: I’m not anon @ 4:47, but I don’t think that is blaming the victim. It is just some advice that might make it less likely that you become the victim of a crime. It is a good idea to lock the door to your house. If you forget, I don’t think you “had it coming” if you are burglarized. I agree that it might have been worded better. Perhaps “many law enforcement professionals suggest that it is a good practice to not wear earphones in public and to generally demonstrate awareness…” On the other hand, I see Erika’s experience below is to the contrary, and no one has suggested that if you don’t wear headphones you are magically protected from assault or harassment. In any event, very glad this person was apprehended.

    • Actually the reason I wear earbuds is because I’ve found that men are far less likely to harass me if they think I can’t hear them. I don’t even have music playing most of the time – I’m just trying to be left alone. And it works!

  12. Some guy came close to me on the street once and said something really crude and nasty right in my ear. I was SO pissed. I followed him as I called the police and told them exactly where he was. They can run, but they can’t hide. Stalk the s*$# out of this guy next time you see him. Who cares if you’re late for work.

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  14. Good for you for reporting him! May he make many friends in his jail cell who will grab his ass. This is the reason why I never stand on the escalators – if you keep walking up (even the long ones in Dupont) no one will get the opportunity. Hard to hit a moving target.

  15. I saw this at iMetro and passed the story along to Unsuckdecmetro.

    Erica, We got your back! I’m happy to hear the Arlington Police got that creeper.

  16. Golden Silence

    YES! I’m happy that Arlington Police took this seriously and that one more creep is off the streets.

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  22. Thanks for leaving this brave post.
    I too was accosted in the DC Metro but only told 2 friends about it.

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