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February 26, 2019

Streets Department worker arrested in string of South Philly sexual assaults

Crime Sexual Assaults
Philadelphia Police officer cruiser Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A Philadelphia police car.

An employee of the Philadelphia Streets Department is facing criminal charges in connection with a string of sexual assaults around South Philadelphia over the past few months, police announced Tuesday.

Authorities said Safien Williams, 37, was taken into custody Monday at his South Philadelphia home.

Police served a search warrant and recovered incriminating evidence including a cell phone and clothing allegedly described by some of his alleged victims. Williams has been an employee of the city since last July.

Investigators said Williams allegedly would follow women before threatening them with a knife or knocking them out and then sexually assaulting them, according to authorities.

Last Friday, in the most recent case, Williams allegedly attacked a woman in the 1900 block of S. Bancroft Street, asking the victim for a kiss before flashing his knife, police said.

The day before, a man caught on a surveillance camera, was seen riding his bike up to a woman on the 400 block of Mifflin Street and sexually assaulting her. Investigators allege the man in the video was Williams, and they say the bike was later recovered at an abandoned property.

Three of the sexual assaults Williams has been charged with allegedly occurred since Dec. 20, the first of which police said took place near Seventh and South Streets. A fourth charge is filed for a sexual assault dating back to May 2018.

Authorities said the investigation remains ongoing and additional charges could be forthcoming.