If you remember, towards the end of 2014 I wrote about a groping incident that happened to me in the back of a green cab. In that post, I said that I planned to testify in court in order to see that this cabbie have his license revoked. A lot has happened since then—but most importantly, the TLC handed the driver an actual sentence, bringing me some much-needed peace of mind. So today, I’m writing as a reminder that reporting assault of any kind is the best thing you can do for yourself and for others.
Not that all of this happened immediately. First, there was a preliminary settlement hearing held in early January (which I didn’t have to attend), where the cab driver denied having touched me. Then, I got my court date— but it wasn’t until March 9 (this past Monday). That was going to be over three months since the date of the original incident. What could I do? The courts were backed up. My attorney informed me that a plea deal might be reached before the date, but I was skeptical.
This past Friday, with two days until trial, my attorney called to inform me that the driver had suddenly agreed to plead guilty. That meant he would pay $3,000 in fines, and suffer a two-month suspension of his license. Going to court would have run him the risk of losing his license entirely. I could have pushed for the trial, too. But I said it when this first happened, and I’ll say it again here: at its best, justice is not a form of revenge. It is a form of clarification. In this case, even the temporary suspension still clarifies for that driver the problem with what happened in his cab. Not to mention, there’s now a permanent mark on his record that’ll engender much greater consequences if he ever tries something like this again.
A lot of people feel that pursuing a harassment or assault case is petty, and that it will only lead to dead-ends, dismissals or witness protection situations the likes of which Law and Order has never dreamed. But real life doesn’t have that much bravado: sometimes they just get the guy, and he just gets fined, and everything quiets down again.
Recently there was another, even more horrific assault by a cab driver in Brooklyn. The victim also decided to report it immediately, and now plans to testify against her assailant. If there’s anything I hope you can take from these news-making accounts 0f assault and their eventual resolutions, it’s that speaking up is the shortest distance between a crime and its counterpoint. Don’t turn to your social media following for absolution when you feel helpless. Use the authorities, and trust in the possibility of good authority.