Daily Press Staff Writer
This week a jury is scheduled to sentence a man for sexual battery on the Metro Expo light rail train in Santa Monica over the summer.
The jurors convicted Antonio Jose Rivera earlier this month. A 16-year-old young woman told police Rivera sat next to her on the train and then proceeded to inappropriately touch and grope her. The incident happened after Rivera got on the train at the 17th Street station June 20.
This is not the first time Rivera faced these accusations. The man had been charged with a similar offence in another Los Angeles County jurisdiction but pleaded to a lesser charge, according to Public Information Officer Constance Farrell.
Because of the conviction, Rivera will have to register as a sex offender under California Law.
“The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute criminal harassment and battery of women, children, and any vulnerable victim on the train or wherever it occurs,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Terry L. White said in a statement.
Expo line riders should call 9-1-1 to report a crime in progress. They can also download the LA Metro Transit Watch app for iPhone and Android devices to communicate directly with Metro security. The “report it” feature allows riders to anonymously send photos and report incidents.
In the past, cameras have been a significant deterrent to crime on the light rail trains and produce a high arrest rate for crimes that do happen. Every platform has at least one camera with a live feed that can be monitored by Metro employees and sheriff’s deputies. Every car in ever train also has a camera that is constantly recording.
Metro considers staring, making rude comments, and unwanted touching harassment and offers the following tip to riders:
When waiting for a train or bus, stay in a central location near other people.
During off hours, ride as close to the bus or train operator as possible.
If someone bothers you, move to another seat and notify the operator.
If you’re on a platform or inside a station, use the emergency intercom to notify Sheriff’s deputies.