Six women have reported being attacked while at the Morgan Ave L stop in Bushwick since Nov 17.
The first victim of these assaults was a 24-year-old woman who reported she was approached by an unknown man on the stairs at the station and punched multiple times in the face, NYPD confirmed. The man then fled the station.
As the holiday season continued, so did the attacks on women at the Morgan Ave stop. On Dec 11, another 24-year-old woman reported that a man with a closed fist punched her. On Dec 26, a 26-year-old woman filed a report stating that she too was hit in the face by an unknown assailant, causing injuries to her left eye. On Dec 28, the fourth report by a 32-year-old woman stated that she “was walking on the ramp towards the token booth when an unknown man suddenly struck” her in the face, which resulted in cuts, bruises, and swelling to the right side of her face, according to the NYPD.
Cops arrested Benny Watts, a 50-year-old man, in connection with the first four assaults. Watts was charged with four accounts of Assault in the third degree, which is the lowest tier of assault charges. Watts was released without bail, and his next court date is on Feb 2, 2021, according to Oren Yaniv, Director of Communications at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
Assault in the Third Degree is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by only up to a one-year jail sentence. Still, the law includes criminal negligence with a dangerous weapon, meaning that people charged with Assault in the Third Degree might be unaware that they are acting with a deadly weapon, in this case, a fist.
NYPD’s charge of Watts with four accounts of Assault in the Third Degree means that they believe he was not aware that his fist could be used as a dangerous weapon. Although there is an amount of jail time of up to one year, Assault in the Third Degree can also ental minimal punishments, such as a fine, anger management classes, or simply just community service.
Since Watts’s arrest and release, two other women have come forward with reports of being attacked at the Morgan Ave station, according to the Instagram account of one of the women who has been assaulted. NYPD did not respond to request for information on the two additional attacks.
Since these reports have come in, there has been an outcry on social media, warning women to be safe while exiting the Morgan Ave station, as well as surrounding stations.
“I naively thought I was about to escape 2020 relatively unscathed, but the universe had other plans,” read the victim’s Instagram post. “I was assaulted yesterday while exiting my train station (Morgan Ave.) in the early evening. It was so quick that I hardly (knew) what happened,” read another post by the fourth victim.
Others are advising women all over Bushwick, Brooklyn, and New York City on Instagram to stay alert of their surroundings, take Ubers when they can, and stay home to minimize their chances of being assaulted while simply commuting on public transportation. However, in New York City, only people above the age of 18 can carry self-defense items, such as pepper spray and tasers.
NYPD did not comment on how women can keep themselves safe from the risk of being attacked.