Metro transit police have arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with sexual battery and public masturbation after he allegedly targeted a woman in a train in June.
The woman was able to identify the suspect because she had allegedly been victimized by the man a year and a half earlier — one of at least two dozen instances in which he has been arrested in connection with indecent exposure, Metro said in a news release Friday.
The suspect, Nathaniel Tyrone Ford of Southeast D.C., was arrested Friday in the District and will be extradited to Fairfax County to be charged in court.
His arrest is in connection with an incident that occurred in a train at West Falls Church station on June 5, during which Ford is accused of committing public masturbation and sexual battery — a misdemeanor offense under Virginia law that is defined when someone “sexually abuses … the complaining witness, by force, threat, intimidation or ruse.”
According to Metro, Ford has previously been arrested more than two dozen times in connection with indecent exposure, both on and off public transit, including the January 2016 incident from which the woman was able to identify him. He was arrested in that case, as well.
He has also been cited 11 times in connection with fare evasion. Ford is listed in the District’s sex offender registry, and was convicted last January of lewd, indecent or obscene acts against a 17-year-old. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said transit agency officials are not aware that he has served prison time for that conviction or any others.
In their statement, Metro officials pointed out that they do not have the ability to ban people from using the system — even after a person is suspected of having committed so many acts of wrongdoing.
“Currently, the only way to keep an individual off Metro is through a court-issued stay-away order,” Metro said.
It will be up to a judge in Fairfax County to determine whether to ban Ford from riding Metro trains and buses in the immediate or long-term future, but Metro officials have raised concerns in the past that judges often issue stay-away orders that only bar suspects from the specific route, line, or station where a crime allegedly occurred.
Stessel said Friday that the transit agency is not aware of any previous instances in which Ford received a full stay-away order for the entire Metro system, but he has been ordered to stay away from particular lines or stations in the past — orders that only lasted until his next scheduled court date. In this upcoming case, Stessel said, Metro transit police will request that prosecutors seek a stay-away order for the full system.
After a 38-year-old woman was charged with simple assault last week in connection with the throwing of a cup of urine at the face of a Metrobus driver, Metro transit police requested that she be barred from the entire system. But the prosecutors in that case requested that the woman stay off just the X2 bus where the incident happened. A judge granted that request, and the suspect, Opal L. Brown, continues to be allowed to ride the rest of Metro’s buses and trains.