In the age of cameraphones, why did a man think he could get away with carrying on an anonymous campaign of bump-and-grind on women who ride Muni? Now the cops are on his case.
Judson True, a spokesman for San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, says the transit authority has opened an official investigation into the so-called "Muni Humper." According to multiple accounts from women who ride Muni's N-Judah train, the suspect nonconsensually rubs himself against them, presumably for sexual gratification, then jumps off at the next stop.
One reader by the name of Amanda forwarded a picture of the man she says attacked her. She described the incident in an email to NBC Bay Area:
I ride the N every day to/from work and have seen this guy twice. The first time I was sitting on an aisle seat and was humped by this creep as he was standing in the aisle beside me. The second time was the very next day, but luckily I was sitting in a window seat far enough away that time. I recognized him immediately and took a picture of him with my iPhone - not the best quality pic but this is the guy who was doing this to me. I can't speak for whether or not it's the same guy that others have seen but I'm sure it is unless there are multiple guys out there doing this who are short, squatty, and wearing cartoon tees. Let's hope not!
In an interview Friday night with NBC Bay Area, Amanda gave more details of the Muni Humper's modus operandi. He began, she said by rubbing against her shoulder. "It was very noticeable," she said. "It was like ... 'pat pat pat.' At first I thought, 'This probably isn't happening,' and then I was like, 'No, this is what he's doing.' I was scooting closer to the other guy next to me and I gave him a look like 'What are you doing?' Once he saw that I looked at him, he got off the train and left."
Amanda, an avid reader, put the incident out of her mind at first. "As sad as it sounds I think you just kind of get in this zone, okay, I'm on Muni now I'll just kind of read my book and get in my own world." Then a girl in her book club told her that the same thing had happened to her. Then the Muni Diaries, a local blog, wrote about it.
"I read the article and the description and I thought, 'Oh my gosh -- this is the exact same guy.'"
Amanda added that in both her encounters with the Humper, he was playing music on his cell phone's speaker. "It was very obvious when he first got on the train," she said. "He had his music blaring so he was already drawing attention to himself and then, um, it wasn't at all hidden. He definitely isn't trying to be discreet about it."
The photo she provided was also posted on Muni Diaries. A commenter on that post added that, while she could not confirm the identity of the man in the photograph, he resembled her assailant as well. Another commenter left the following request on the blog post:
Please contact me concerning your ordeal on the “N” line. Tim Gibson Muni Investigation Unit 554-7156
Asked about the comment apparently left by a Muni representative, True, the Muni spokesman, could not immediately verify that it was authentic but confirmed that Tim Gibson is the name of a San Francisco police officer who works with Muni. He also said such online outreach is typical of Gibson's unit, and encouraged other victims to contact Muni to help the investigation.
The French have a word for the Muni Humper's alleged crime: "frotteurism." It's known more popularly as "criminal sexual assault." If the Internet-aided investigation bears fruit, the Muni Humper's days of copping free feels may be numbered.
Update: The police have released a statement. They're not calling him the "Muni Humper." Somehow, "sexual battery suspect" doesn't have the same ring to it.
SAN FRANCISCO POLICE SEEKING PUBLIC’S HELP IN LOCATING SEXUAL BATTERY SUSPECT
The San Francisco Police Department is seeking the public’s help in attempting to locate Municipal Transit riders who have been victims of a sexual battery. On the morning of May 8, a witness reported seeing the suspect rubbing his pelvis against a woman on the inbound N-Judah line. The victim in the incident has not been identified. The witness also saw the suspect on the outbound N-Judah the same evening. The suspect got off the train at the Powell Street Station. The witness reported the incident to police.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, early 20s, 6’, 250 lbs, mustache and goatee with long cornrows on the side of his head down to the collar. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, jeans, and had earrings in both ears.
It is believed that the same suspect has been committing similar sexual batteries that have not been reported. Anyone who has been the victim of this or other incidents should contact the police as soon as possible. Most Muni vehicles are equipped with surveillance video.
Jackson West suggests Muni acts fast, since the last thing SFMTA flacks need right now is serial sexual predator publicity. Owen Thomas, the editorial director of NBCBayArea.com, is just glad no one live-tweeted a humping.
Kimberly Tere also contributed to this report.