Woman recounts 'disgusting' incident on TTC after subway sex assaults report

A Toronto woman riding the subway during rush hour was shocked and disgusted to learn a man had masturbated and ejaculated onto her coat.

Sensitive details in this story may be disturbing

Mari-Anne Ramson said she regrets not filing a police report following the 2013 incident. (Bruce Reeve/CBC)

Mari-Anne Ramson was revolted by the sight of her winter jacket; so much so she threw it out.

Her coat was a constant reminder of a "disgusting and really upsetting" incident on the TTC.

In March 2013, Ramson was travelling during afternoon rush hour to Davisville station when a man "shoved his way" on to the subway car. She thought little of it at the time. He later shoved his way off the car.

It was hot on the car so Ramson had removed her coat but when she went to put it on at Davisville, she discovered the man had masturbated and ejaculated onto her coat.

"It was pretty disgusting and really upsetting and made me incredibly angry," she told Metro Morning.

She immediately told a TTC employee, who asked if she was OK and apologized for the incident, she said.

The employee asked if Ramson got a good look at the man but Ramson didn't, she said — she didn't think anything of his presence.

I felt so dirty every time I looked at [the coat.]- Mari-Anne   Ramson

"I didn't get a good enough look at him to file a report," she said. "That's the only reason I didn't file the report."

"I wasn't physically hurt so I also thought maybe it would be minimized," she said. "I viewed it slightly differently myself."

Ramson said she regrets not filing a police report.

"I do sort of regret not going at the time," she said.

She drycleaned her jacket but ultimately, threw it out, she said.

"I was so upset and angry by what had happened that at the point, I just wanted to get rid of my coat."

"I felt so dirty every time I looked at it."

'Fear is always a big challenge'

There were 56 sexual assaults reported on the subway system in 2015, according to data obtained by Radio-Canada. The figure represents a 16 per cent decline from 2014 but as Toronto police note, sexual assaults are vastly under-reported.

"I'm angry that a creep like that would use our subway system to victimize people," said Det.-Sgt. Joanne Rudnick of the Sex Crimes Unit.

"I certainly don't blame victims. I certainly don't blame anyone for not wanting to report at the time or later because it's a very difficult thing to do. It's a difficult step to make."

Rudnick said there are several reasons why a victim may choose not to report, including whether police will believe the victim, the possibility of being identified or attacked by the perpetrator again.

"Fear is always a big challenge in getting people to come forward," Rudnick told Metro Morning.

"What are their parents going to say? What are friends going to say? Perhaps, they're a newcomer to the country and don't understand the laws of the land. I understand those reasons," she said.

Rudnick said police are working alongside the TTC on a sexual assault awareness campaign for the spring, along with app that will help riders report sex crimes.

"We have to work more with our partners so that we make a culture where it is easier for victims to come forward; that they do not perceive these barriers in reporting to the police."

'At least it was me'

Ramson said following the incident, she prefers to walk and dislikes taking the subway during rush hour.

"I'm very aggressively aware when I ride the subway," she said.

She said she finds "comfort" in that it happened to her and not a younger person, saying she feels "emotionally capable of managing it a little bit better."

"There's lots of teenagers who get on the subway on the Yonge line and it could've been a younger girl," she said.

"If it had been me when I was a teenager, I would've been devastated."

"It's terrible that it happened to me but at least it was me and not someone younger."