Laws Needed to Encourage Assisting Those in Peril

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2021

3 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2021

See all articles by Zachary D. Kaufman

Zachary D. Kaufman

Boston University - School of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; University of Houston Law Center; Stanford Law School; Yale University - Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: November 1, 2021


On Oct. 13, Fiston Ngoy allegedly raped an unnamed woman on a train outside Philadelphia while other riders did little to intervene, or even to call 911. Commentators immediately compared this assault to Winston Moseley’s attack against Catherine “Kitty” Genovese in Queens, N.Y., in 1964. That crime contributed to the development of “Bad Samaritan laws,” which impose a legal duty to assist others in peril through intervening directly (“duty to rescue”) or notifying authorities (“duty to report”). These laws, which Pennsylvania lacks, punish bystanders (who passively watch others in need) and encourage upstanders (who actively assist, potentially saving lives). The alleged Ngoy assault, even more than Moseley’s, illustrates the need to enact duty-to-report laws to prod would-be bystanders to become upstanders.

Keywords: bystanders, upstanders, Fiston Ngoy, Catherine Genovese, Kitty Genovese, Winston Moseley, save, rescue, protect, aid, assist, rape, murder, Criminal Law, Bad Samaritan laws, duty to report, duty to rescue, Good Samaritan, punishment, prevention, deterrence, incentives

Suggested Citation

Kaufman, Zachary D., Laws Needed to Encourage Assisting Those in Peril (November 1, 2021). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2021, Available at SSRN:

Zachary D. Kaufman (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

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Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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