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NY police go undercover to catch lewd subway passengers

The Associated Press

NEW YORK- A police sting netted 13 suspected subway flashers and gropers, including some who made a move on undercover officers.

Authorities have just announced the results of the two-day sting, called Operation Exposure, which was conducted in late May. But the crackdown is continuing.

It was begun after increased harassment complaints by female straphangers, New York Police Department Transit Bureau Chief James Hall said Thursday.

In a number of cases, women have tackled the inappropriate behavior on their own, taking cellphone pictures of men they said had harassed them, and posting them on the Internet.

Thao Nguyen, a 23-year-old marketing director, snapped a photo of restaurateur Dan Hoyt exposing himself to her on a train. He was arrested, and has been put on two years probation and ordered into counseling.

In the May sting, both uniformed and plainclothes officers rode rush-hour trains and staked out platforms. The suspects, ranging in age from 21 to 58, were charged with crimes that included sexual abuse, forcible touching and public lewdness. In some cases, the men actually touched undercover police officers.

"It was part of ongoing efforts by the NYPD to make the subways as safe and hospitable as possible," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. "We hope there'll also be deterrent value for potential perpetrators who recognize their 'victim' may be a police officer."

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