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State Senate passes law to make subway grinding a felony

The passage came the day after the bill’s sponsor released a report detailing the alarming rise in subway sex crimes.
New York state Senate passes a law that makes subway grinding a felony.
Reported subway sex crimes rose more than 51 percent between 2014 and 2016. Between January and May of this year, there were already 434 incidents. (iStock)

The day after state Sen. Diane Savino released a report showing the shocking rise in sexual assault on New York City subways, the state Senate passed her bill to strengthen penalties on subway predators in a 57-to-5 vote.

Reported subway sex crimes rose more than 51 percent between 2014 and 2016, according to “Perverted Justice: How Subway Grinders Continue to Victimize New Yorkers,” the report Savino released Tuesday.

Broken down, subway sex crimes jumped from 620 in 2014 to 738 in 2015 to 941 last year. Comparatively, there have already been 434 reported subway sex crimes between Jan. 1 and May 28 of this year, a 9 percent increase over the same period last year.

The sex crimes Savino’s study highlighted include public lewdness, sexual abuse and forcible touching like “grinding,” which refers to when a predator rubs themselves up against a victim, often on a crowded train.

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Forcible touching on public transportation currently carries a misdemeanor penalty of one year in prison, though most suspects serve little to no time. Under Savino’s bill, the crime would become a class-D felony carrying a prison sentence of one to seven years.

Her legislation would also increase imprisonment for public lewdness on transportation from three months to one year.

“We need to stop subway grinders in their tracks, and increasing penalties is a major deterrent to this abhorrent behavior,” said Savino, who represents Brooklyn and Staten Island. “Subway grinding and lewdness are serious crimes that threaten and humiliate victims who are simply trying to get to school, work or home. My legislation treats these crimes seriously, and I hope we can finally make this law.”

The bill, S3861, failed to pass three previous times it was proposed. It has now been sent to the state Assembly, where it must pass before it is sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

 
 
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