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Lawmakers, Victims Want 'Subway Grinders' Labeled As Sex Offenders

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Victims say the punishment for so-called "subway grinding" does not fit the crime.

The lewd act involves rubbing up against unassuming commuters and now local lawmakers are demanding stronger penalties for convicted grinders.

Mary Beth Coudal, of the Upper West Side, said she still can't shake what happened to her on the subway years ago.

"It was very embarrassing for me, but I said, 'Excuse me, I want everyone on this car to know this gentleman was just rubbing up against me,'" Coudal told CBS 2's Weijia Jiang on Tuesday.

1010 WINS' Juliet Papa Reports


Coudal, pregnant at the time, was a victim of a subway grinder. That's what police call straphangers who strap on to a stranger, usually pin them against seats or a big crowd, and rub against them.

"That's disgusting...that's gross," said Eve Ressa, of the Lower East Side.

What's even more shocking?

A Bronx man recently convicted of doing it to three young women -- even ejaculating on them -- did not get prison time because of a 2008 ruling from New York's highest court.

A 29-year-old man was charged with "forcible compulsion" after he grinded on a 14-year-old.

But the Court of Appeals ruled the man did not use force, so the charge was downgraded from first-degree sex abuse to a misdemeanor, setting a precedent women said is just not right.

"Even though he's not using force in a conventional sense, it is a forceful act of abuse against women," Coudal said.

City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. said he wants to put the violators on a sex offenders' list.

"The judges are wrong. They're up in an ivory tower. They're not a 14-year-old girl pinned in a train having this happen to her," Vallone said. "But we shouldn't rely on them. Albany needs to write a law to fit this crime."

Last year, the State Senate passed a measure that would make grinding a felony for repeat offenders, but the Assembly struck it down.

The bill's sponsors plan to try again this year.

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