Groping on the train — again and again and again

Groping is a common problem on buses and trains, especially when men and women are crammedTrain
together. In Japan, "two-thirds of female riders in their twenties and thirties reported
that they had been groped on trains, and the majority had been
victimized frequently." In some countries, including Japan, India and Mexico, authorities have tried to address the problem on trains by introducing "women-only"  passenger cars. It’s a good solution, especially if you don’t mind having other women grope you. (I’m sure it happens, though not as frequently as male-on-female groping.)

How serious a crime is it? Well, if you’re a victim of groping, you probably think it’s fairly serious. I’d hate to have some guy rubbing himself against me or touching my butt. (And I’d also be reluctant to snap the ball in American football.)

If you’re a perpetrator, you probably think it’s a fairly harmless crime. All you’re doing is touching or rubbing against someone, which is almost unavoidable during rush hour. Like Freddie Johnson, you want to keep doing it.

About two weeks after he was released from prison, Freddie Johnson
boarded a crowded subway train during morning rush hour in Manhattan,
squeezed in behind a woman and ground his pelvis into her backside,
authorities said.

It is a fairly common crime on subways in New York. But this was no common criminal.

Johnson has been arrested a staggering 53 times — the majority for groping women on the subway, police and prosecutors said.

In the latest incident, Johnson was being followed by plainclothes
officers who recognized him from police photos, authorities said. He
was charged with persistent sexual abuse, and if convicted this time,
he could be sent away for life. The district attorney’s office branded
him a "recidivist transit grinder" at a court hearing earlier this week. [Link]

A recidivist transit grinder? Isn’t that the guy at the Starbucks in the subway? He certainly does a lot of grinding. Johnson’s grinding is worse of course, because nobody wants to pay $9.95 for it.

The subway sicko with a 57-page rap sheet brazenly claimed Sunday that pretty women should expect to get groped on trains.

"When there’s this many attractive women in the city and on the subways, don’t they know [this will happen]?" asked Freddie Johnson in a disturbing jailhouse interview with the Daily News. [Link]

Yeah, it’s your fault, ladies. Stop being so darn attractive. Next time you travel, wear a temporary wart on your nose and stick a few hairs on your chin. And watch out for that blind grinder.

Around half of all so-called exhibitionists like Johnson are repeat
offenders, experts say. Exhibitionists have the highest rate of
re-offense of all sex crimes, but there isn’t much crossover into more
egregious acts like rape or assault, said Elizabeth Jeglic, a professor
of treatment and rehabilitation of offenders at John Jay College of
Criminal Justice.

"Exhibitionism is disturbing, but in the larger scheme you want to
commit the people who are grabbing kids off the street, or the rapist
in Central Park," Jeglic said. [Link]

Yeah, it’s definitely not as serious as child abduction or rape, even if we’d all like Johnson to keep his, uh, johnson to himself.

He certainly doesn’t deserve life imprisonment, though dropping the soap in the prison bathroom may teach him a lesson or two.

Photo by Blmurch

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. This is why I prefer driving to public transportation. It’s not that I wouldn’t mind getting groped by an attractive woman every now and then, but they’re few and far between on the bus or the subway. On the flip side, being groped is never a woman’s fault, but if a woman wants to lessen the chances, she should dress as unattractively as possible and wear no make-up. A fake mustache couldn’t hurt.

  2. In Mexico City women ride in a crowded women-only subway wagon during morning rush hour. During rush hour, a third of the subway wagons are reserved for women and children only, to help women avoid groping and sexual harassment. This should be enforced all over the world, including Japan and India.

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