Toronto

Eyewitness to alleged TTC sex harassment says male riders defended alleged assailant

A woman who says she witnessed sexual harassment on the subway last week says two other male riders defended the alleged assailant's actions, and one went tried to get her to stop her "noise" as she tried to help the victim.

'My blood just boiled,' Toronto woman says after incident on Bloor-Danforth subway line last week

Jamie Baker tells CBC News about the sexual harassment she witnessed and experienced on the TTC's Bloor-Danforth subway line last week. 3:06

A woman who says she witnessed sexual harassment on the subway last week says two other male riders defended the alleged assailant's actions, and one even told her he was tired of her "noise" as she tried to help the victim.

Jamie Baker, 28, said that after she stepped in to help the woman being harassed, two other men in the subway car defended the man's actions. All three men made demeaning comments about her, she said. She said one of the men said to her: "We've heard enough of your noise."

Baker said the two other men berated her until she hit the emergency yellow strip for assistance. The two men got off at the next stop and a young woman thanked her for speaking up. She said no one responded to her call for assistance and she left the train shortly after at her stop.

"So totally disappointed in the men I've just interacted with, and honestly enraged by the mindless dismissal of the entire situation," Baker wrote on Facebook. 

Baker said the incident left her "honestly enraged" and she hopes that both police and the Toronto Transit Commission take action.

"My intention is to let people know that there are people out there [who] aren't afraid to speak up and to defend people who are not able to speak up for themselves," Baker, a store manager, told CBC News. "I'd like for this to be addressed. It's so disappointing to see this happen."

Baker said she was riding westbound from Bloor station on Friday evening, when she noticed a man get on the subway.

The man began touching another woman sitting nearby, Baker alleged. She said the man had flung his arm around the other passenger, tracing his fingers along her shoulder and through the ends of her hair. 

"She looked embarrassed, and I figured the man was possibly her father or a relative who had met her along the way," Baker wrote in her Facebook post. Then "I realized she was edging away from him, and put my book away."

Jamie Baker, a store manager, is speaking up about harassment of women on the Toronto Transit Commission. (Facebook)

That woman got off the subway and waited for the next train.

The man let his hand drop onto the groceries in her lap, she said. When she loudly asked him to remove it, she said he began harassing her. 

"I said, 'Do you mind, you know, you are kind of poking into my bread,'" Baker told CBC.

Baker took photos of the man and plans to give them to police. Her post has been shared more than 4,500 times and two women have come forward with information about the man she says harassed her. She has received several messages of support.

"Complete strangers that I've never met before have shared some extremely poignant things with me," said Baker. "Things that they've openly expressed they haven't even shared with their own friends and family.

"I think a lot of women who see this and have read the story have identified with this in a way that's really substantial."

TTC investigating

She has filed a complaint with the TTC and plans to do the same with police.

"Upon realizing that this man was not travelling with [the other woman], my blood just boiled," Baker said. 

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the TTC has launched an investigation and is waiting to receive more information from Baker. He said harassment of any kind on the TTC, including unwanted attention, is completely unacceptable.

"This is a very serious matter and we are taking this seriously," Ross said.

Ross said the TTC does not track complaints of sexual harassment but it does track complaints about sexual assault. "Regardless of the number, one is too many."

He said the TTC is developing an app that would allow riders to report harassment through their smartphones and it will give riders another tool to protect themselves when on TTC trains.