Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, New York State Senator Diane J. Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick today announced new State legislation that would lead to felony charges and jail time for offenders found guilty of initiating unwanted sexual contact—including “subway grinding.” The legislation closes a loophole opened in a recent court ruling, which downgraded the penalties for lewd, unwanted touching in crowded spaces like subways and buses. Under the new law, unwanted sexually-motivated touching of a someone who is physically helpless, unable to move or on public transit would be considered a class B felony and punishable with jail time.
“When the laws on the books aren’t enough to protect people, we have to make them tougher. ‘Grinding’ is a deeply personal and deeply offensive violation that no woman or straphanger should have to suffer. We need laws that match the seriousness of this crime,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “I thank Senator Savino and Assemblyman Cusick for stepping forward to close this loophole and protect New Yorkers.”
“These ‘grinders’ are nothing more than sexual deviants who prey upon mostly female victims who are simply going to and from work or school with no means of escape,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “Now these disgusting predators will be treated by the law, as what they are, felons and sex offenders.”
“What most people may not realize is that the City Police Department receives over 1,000 complaints a year for public lewdness or forcible touching. In a case last year where the police caught a man who sexually abused women on a subway through his DNA long after he committed the crime of sexual assault, the guy is now out free on three years’ probation, after only one year behind bars. Currently a crime of this nature is considered a misdemeanor. This legislation we are introducing today strengthens the penalties to protect victims of unwanted sexual contact,” said Assembly Member Michael Cusick.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Savino and Assembly Member Cusick, defines “aggravated sexual assault in the first degree” as unwanted touching, rubbing, close physical contact or ejaculation committed for the purpose of sexual gratification. The law would apply if the victim is younger than 11 years-old, or if the victim is physically helpless, unable to move or a passenger on public transportation.