NEW YORK, NEW YORK – State lawmakers, prosecutors and women are outraged that a chronic pervert who masturbated on three subway riders got off with no prison time — courtesy to the state’s highest court.
Darnell Hardware, 27, got three years probation last week because Court of Appeals judges ruled earlier this year that subway grinders — as they are called by law enforcement — can’t be charged with felonies if they don’t use force to pursue their repulsive perversion.
In other words, it’s gross, but it’s not violent.
“The court system has let him get away scott free,” said Nicola Briggs, 40, of Manhattan, who has faced down a subway grinder before. “It’s a slap on the wrist, honestly. I do not think the punishment did fit the crime.”
Prosecutors say dozens of subway sickos have walked away from charges that could have carried up to seven years since the high court’s March ruling.
In Hardware’s case, the pervert has indeed been prolific, with a rap sheet that includes 32 arrests, including two sexual assault cases in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The recent subterranean charges stemmed from three incidents in Manhattan between 2003 and 2005, when Hardware rubbed himself to orgasm on two young women aged 22 and 24, and a 17-year-old high school student.
“She could feel what was happening but (was) powerless to move,” Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges said of one victim.
Hardware can thank fellow perv Jason Mack for his freedom.
In 2002, the 300-pound Mack rubbed against a 14-year-old girl in a packed downtown 1 train — but it wasn’t until 2009 that his DNA was linked to the crime.
Mack confessed to the perversion, but Judge Renee White threw out a felony charge because there was no proof the girl felt threatened with violence.
The DA’s office fought the case all the way to the state’s highest court, but lost. Mack ended up facing a max of three months for a misdemeanor sex abuse charge.
Briggs, who stood up to a subway grinder in 2010, said that there is something deeply hostile about the crime.
“I would disagree that there is not violence involved,” said Briggs. “It cuts to the core of someone’s psyche – it attacks the self esteem. It is tacitly being condoned by (the court system) not coming down on this. I think there is a sex bias in the court system.”
State Sen. Bill Perkins introduced a bill last year that would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges against someone with two prior convictions – even if there’s been a 10-year period in between offenses. The legislation passed the Senate, but was struck down in the Assembly. Perkins vowed to reintroduce it this year.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. called on Albany close the loophole and put convicted grinders on a state sex offenders list.