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What Should You Do When Faced with a CTA Perv?

By Amy Mikel in Miscellaneous on Jul 9, 2008 4:27PM

I recently found myself on a nearly-empty Brown Line car during the early evening, when I realized that a man sitting next to me was masturbating. I kicked him and yelled at him to stop, which he did, and he left the train at the next stop. My immediate reaction was to feel relieved that I had so quickly recognized and taken control of the situation. And although I was grossed out, my prevailing feeling was: Fuck you, man. Nice try.

So, dear readers, a reminder: on public transit, there are people who habitually expose themselves, who grope, rub against, or masturbate in front of other passengers. If you ever experience this behavior, or see this happening to someone else, you do NOT have to tolerate it. This kind of thing is against the law - it's a sex crime. So what are you supposed to do?

  • Direct confrontation is usually the most effective response. Demand that the behavior stop, or loudly announce what is happening.

  • If you are able, take a picture of the offender with a cell phone or camera, or ask another passenger to take a picture.

  • In a situation where you feel threatened or unsafe, exit the train, and alert the operator or customer assistant.

  • Report information or pictures to the Chicago Police, or by calling 311. Tips for giving a physical description: include height, weight, sex, age, race, or distinguishing marks and
    clothing. Alert the CTA as well, giving additional information like the train car or bus route number, time of day, and where the offender boarded and exited.

  • You can also email photos and information to Kevin from great local blog CTA Tattler. For the past few years, Kevin has frankly and openly addressed this issue, publishing detailed descriptions of offenders, and directly soliciting statements from CTA representatives on the effectiveness of reporting an incident:

    "When they have reports and know when and where incidents are occurring, they can map them and study them for patterns," said [VP of Communications Noelle] Gaffney. "Our security can work with police on deployment of officers, who may be plainclothes or uniformed, depending on the situation. If we find that any of the culprits are registered sex offenders, our Law Department will institute steps to ban them from the CTA system."

Nationally there have been several documented cases of men who have been reported, caught and arrested for habitual pervy behavior on public transportation.

Bottom line: if you see something, say something.

Chicago Police Department: call 312-746-6000 or 311 or email

CTA Customer Service: call 1 888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) (weekdays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or email