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Man convicted of sexual assault for groping four people on the Metro Red Line

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01, 2016 - Passengers fill the platform of the Metro Red and Purple Line
Passengers fill the platform of the Metro Red and Purple lines at Union Station.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles man who groped three women and a teenage girl on the subway last year has been convicted of sexual assault and battery and will be required to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said Friday.

Ager Linder, 26, pleaded no contest this month to two counts of sexual battery and two counts of battery, prosecutors said. Linder was sentenced to more than a year in county jail and three years of probation. He will also be required to complete a year-long sex offender treatment program.

Linder groped three women and a 16-year-old girl on the Metro Red Line between July and December of last year, prosecutors said. One woman contacted law enforcement after he pinned her against the wall of a train and grabbed her buttocks.

“People should be able to use our transit systems without troubling and frightening harassment, abuse or worse,” Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer said in a statement. “Public transit is essential to the future of our city, and we must do all we can to ensure our moms, kids — everyone — can ride without fear.”

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Linder has five previous convictions for similar assaults on transit, including grabbing a woman’s buttocks on a bus in Culver City, groping two women on a bus in Norwalk, and touching a woman’s thigh on a Metro Blue Line train in Long Beach, prosecutors said.

As part of his sentence, Linder is barred from riding Metro trains or coming within 100 yards of a station, prosecutors said.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Dave Sotero said the agency enforces such bans by distributing a copy of the court order and a photograph of the person to law enforcement officials.

“Now justice will prevail for this individual who has victimized our transit customers,” Sotero said in an email. “The order to remove him will enhance safety on our system and validate our zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.”

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Metro encourages passengers who experience a public safety threat to call (888) 950-SAFE or, in an emergency, 911.

Ridership on the Metro Red Line fell by nearly 8% over a five-year period, a decline that some passengers have attributed to safety problems. In a 2016 survey, 29% of former transit riders said they stopped taking buses and trains because they felt unsafe.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez said during a public meeting this week that she would not ride the subway with her 8-year-old daughter. She described Metro buses and trains as “enclosed areas where victims have very little room to escape.”

Martinez said Friday in a prepared statement that Linder’s conviction was an “important step forward in the fight against sexual harassment and assault on public transit.”

laura.nelson@latimes.com

For more transportation news, follow @laura_nelson on Twitter.


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