NEW YORK, N.Y. – He’s been arrested nearly 80 times – including 32 instances of sex crimes on public transit. And on Thursday, police arrested him again, this time for allegedly groping a 13-year-old girl.
Authorities in New York City say that James Hunt was taken down yet again at the 42nd Street Bryant Park station after he reportedly assaulted a teenage girl who was trying to buy a MetroCard. He’s one of the “Dirty Dozen”, a group of repeat offenders who boast an insanely long list of arrests for transit sex crimes.
— New York Post (@nypost) September 21, 2019
The NYPD has been having a difficult time dealing with these serial offenders, as the crimes of public indecency and lewd behavior are misdemeanors and the suspects are usually cut loose quickly, able to return to the streets and reoffend with a new victim in no time at all.
The New York Post said that Hunt is known for his tendency to suck his thumb while masturbating in front of passengers on the subway. He’s been arrested 78 times.
Sgt. Christopher O’Connell is the commanding officer of the Transit Special Victims Squad in New York City. He called Hunt the “poster child” for repeat sex crimes on the subway and said that more serious measures need to be taken, such as banning these types of offenders from the transit system for life.
“I believe he should be banned from the subway,” he said. “Regular people get up and go to work, they go to school, to doctors appointments, and he’s out there preying on people. This is all he does.”
Cops in the city are frustrated that they are prevented from stopping known sex offenders for being in the subway, even when they know what they’re about to do.
A dirty dozen transit deviants are driving subway sex crimes through the roof with their refusal to stay away, arrest after arrest, NYPD insiders tell @nypost.
They “wake up in the morning for one purpose, and that is to commit these crimes.” https://t.co/3nadFBfjRK
— Connor Ryan (@connortryan) March 18, 2019
Instead of being proactive, they have to sit back and wait for them to victimize someone else.
“It’s a challenge we face,” one source from the NYPD said. “We spot people we know are going to do this and we have to follow them until they spot another victim. We have to wait until they victimize someone else.”
It’s unclear if any legal measures will come from law enforcement’s warning about these individuals.
“They’re highly recidivist, all of them,’’ NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said in an interview with the Post recently. “They get over and over arrested for the same things. They ride the same train lines.”
624 sex-related complaints have been reported in the subway in 2019, increasing from 609 over the same period last year.
“They’re creeps. They prey on the innocent. They prey on women,” a department source said.
A recent report of city crime rates show that the city’s subway system might be one of the most dangerous places in New York.
And as the yearly reports become the topic of conversations over what has changed and what needs to be done, members of law enforcement are caught in the middle.
So who’s to blame for the heightened crime rates underneath the city that never sleeps?
The cops say it’s their leader, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
A prominent source within the department told the New York Post that officers feel “handcuffed” by their leader’s stance on enforcing the law. And they say that innocent New Yorkers are suffering because of it.
“The mayor has handcuffed the police in enforcing the quality-of-life crimes that we should enforce, and these guys know it now,” said the source. “And all the fare-paying customers commuting to work have to suffer. There are people down there picking pockets and sexually assaulting them.”
That source reportedly said that de Blasio’s agenda was partially to blame for the increase in subway crimes, largely due to his discouragement of arrests for low-level infractions like jumping a turnstile, even if that original stop could help uncover or discourage more serious crimes.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers.
Reports from crime within the subway system has increased in four different areas, the Post said. Through the end of August, police have logged two rapes and two murders. Last year during the same time period, police only had one homie and had yet to have any reported rapes, according to NYPD stats outlined for Monday’s MTA board meeting.
Robberies and felony assaults are also on the rise, but have not seen serious growth like the other categories, with robberies going from 309 up to 327 and felony assaults from 229 to 233.
The Post also noted that hate crimes that were reported had nearly doubled since last year, with an increase from 32 up to 62 – or an increase of 95 percent.
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Veteran city dwellers have also noticed the change, comparing the current climate of the underground mass transit system to what it used to be back when Mayor Bloomberg was in power.
“People don’t feel safe like they used to when Bloomberg was mayor,” one Manhattan resident said. “Taking the trains used to be a good experience, and now it’s just awful.”
“People don’t feel safe like they used to when Bloomberg was mayor,” Milner said. “Taking the trains used to be a good experience, and now it’s just awful.”
Transit crime IS UP 11% over the last 9 years. https://t.co/RkyH0Be21z
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) September 23, 2019
“Every New Yorker knows the trains are dangerous, especially at night,” said another subway rider.
But overall felonies within the system seem to actually be dropping, with a 2.6 percent decrease in felonies over the same time period as compared to last year. But when looking at a larger span of time, subway crimes are actually up roughly 11 percent in the last nine years.
"The 25-year-old victim had just entered the 6 train stop at E. 149th St. in Hunts Point when a man and woman menaced him with a knife and demanded his backpack around 2:15 a.m. Saturday, police said."
Transit crime in the Bronx IS UP 13.4%. https://t.co/mOZZaIAHKI
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) September 23, 2019
The NYPD released a statement after the reports of increased subway crime became a talking point in the news this week.
“The NYPD is committed to the nearly 6 million riders who use the subway each day and works closely with New York City Transit to address crime conditions,” the department said. “Overall crime continues to decline in the subway system and the police department vigorously investigates any incident to bring justice to victims and keep all riders safe.”
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