Fiston Ngoy, 35, who has been charged with rape, has a previous sex offense conviction and should have been deported back to Congo years ago, it was claimed last night.
Police said he went to sit next to the victim after boarding the El train at the same stop in northeast Philadelphia last Wednesday evening.
The train passed more than 20 stations as he harassed and groped her while she tried to fend him off, it is alleged.
Eventually he ripped off her clothes and raped her, police said.
But it is believed no one on board called 911 or used the emergency call box fitted in the car.
And it is claimed some passengers instead used their phones to video the attack.
The woman’s ordeal only ended when an off-duty train employee called police, who arrived within three minutes and pulled the rapist off her, according to an arrest affidavit.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said it was “disturbing” to know people saw the attack and did nothing to help.
“I have no words for it,” he said. “I just can’t imagine seeing what you were seeing through your own eyes.”
He added: “I’m appalled by those who did nothing to help this woman.
“Anybody that was on that train has to look in the mirror and ask why they didn’t intervene or why they didn’t do something.”
Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel said yesterday: “We want everyone to be angry, disgusted, and to join us in being resolute in keeping our system safe.”
Police have not released security camera footage or revealed how many other people were in the car.
But Chief Nestel said: “I can tell you that people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked.”
Supt Bernhardt said anyone who recorded the assault could face criminal charges.
The victim told officers she had been drinking and accidentally boarded the wrong train at the Frankford Transportation Center.
Ngoy got on about a minute after her and moved to sit next to her.
He told cops he recognised her and struck up a conversation that led to kissing and consensual sex.
But the security video is said to show her repeatedly pushing him away as he groped her breast, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Throughout this time, the victim is obviously struggling with keeping him off of her,” investigators wrote in the affidavit.
The victim said she had never seen Ngoy before.
He was charged with rape, sexual assault and other offenses and was held in custody.
Last night a report claimed Ngoy had been freed from an immigration center two years ago.
He came to the US legally from Congo in 2012 but his visa expired when he ceased to be a student in 2015, according to Fox News.
In 2017 he was sentenced to 120 days’ jail and nine months’ probation after pleading guilty to a sex charge in Washington DC.
He was put in an immigration detention centre in 2018, but the following year his deportation was halted after a judge ruled his misdemeanor sex offense was not a “serious crime”.
Instead he was released and put under a supervision order, with a requirement to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.1