The Metro-North employee, who police said confessed to masturbating on a sleeping pregnant woman on a New Haven Line train because he was under stress at work and home, pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault, public indecency and second-degree breach of peace. With his lawyer, Bruce Koffsky of Stamford, at his side he chose a trial by jury.
If convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor, Ramos will be put on the state's sex offender registry, which is a way for the public to track predators and other sex criminals.
Witnesses said the bag contained a towel, but it was unclear why he had it with him -- although court appearances by their very nature are stressful.
The judge continued the case to March 11.
Koffsky and Ramos declined comment as they left the Golden Hill Street courthouse.
Assistant State's Attorney Tatiana Messina added the fourth-degree sexual assault charge to the case. "I believe it is the appropriate charge based on the evidence," she told the judge.
Ramos could face up to two years in prison if convicted of all the charges.
In training to become an engineer for Metro-North, the 35-year-old Ramos, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is accused of masturbating on the napping woman at about 8 a.m. on Jan. 28 as the train traveled from Grand Central Station to New Haven.
After she opened her eyes and saw Ramos with his pants unzipped, the 33-year-old medical researcher at Yale University told police she yelled and startled him. Police said the woman then screamed for other train riders to stop Ramos as he fled the train at the Fairfield station, but no one helped her.
Ramos was arrested by Fairfield police as he was walking from the station.
Prior to studying to become a train engineer, Ramos was a manual laborer who cleaned coaches for the railroad.
Ramos later gave a written confession, according to police reports, stating he was under a lot of stress because of problems with his wife and because he was about to take a final test to become an engineer.
"I was studying for the test when I started to have unwanted thoughts," he told MTA police. "I began to touch myself when I felt ill with a headache and stressed, the next thing I knew I was masturbating."
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