Photo/IllutrationA man flees on railway tracks near Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo on March 14. (Provided by a reader)

A shout rang out at Ryogoku Station at 7:45 a.m., shattering the usual monotony of the morning commute in Tokyo.

“I didn’t do it,” screamed a man being pulled out of a train car on April 13, after two people, including a junior high school girl, accused him of fondling their breasts and underwear.

He didn’t stick around to defend himself. He jumped from the platform to the tracks of the JR Sobu Line and fled the scene.

Suspected gropers on Tokyo’s intricate railway network have found a dangerous yet effective escape route.

Since mid-March, at least seven incidents have occurred in the capital involving accused perverts running on railway tracks to escape their accusers.

The incident at Ryogoku Station caused a 14-minute delay in train operations.

In another case at busy Ikebukuro Station on the morning of March 14, a man high-tailing it on the tracks halted operations on such major lines as Yamanote and Saikyo, affecting about 32,000 passengers.

Delayed commuters voiced their frustrations on the Internet. But others laud the elusive measures to avoid the possibility of false arrests.

“The men likely feel they will not be pursued if they use the tracks,” said a high-ranking officer at a police station within the Metropolitan Police Department.

The officer said it is difficult for authorities to follow suspects on rail tracks because of the risk of suffering an accident, but added, “We will give chase if there is the chance of catching the suspect.”

In all seven cases, the suspected gropers were long gone before police arrived.

But they caught a break in one of the incidents.

Police on April 26 arrested a 41-year-old man who fled on the tracks of the Saikyo Line after being accused of groping a woman in her 20s the previous day. His identification was confirmed from his belongings he left on the platform during his flight.

But police have no suspects in the six other cases.

Police are investigating these cases on suspicion of not only groping but also violating the railway operations law, which prohibits entry on tracks without good cause. (Fleeing accusations is not a good reason.)

“We will comb through the footage of security cameras set up near areas where individuals can leave the tracks in order to find the suspects,” a senior police officer said.

According to an official with East Japan Railway Co., priority is placed on safety whenever someone jumps onto the tracks.

Operations are resumed only after station employees can visually confirm that no one is on the tracks. Even then, trains run at slower speeds at first to ensure that nothing was overlooked.

The dangers are even greater on subway lines.

According to an official with subway operator Tokyo Metro Co., electric power transmission lines capable of reaching 600 volts are installed by some the tracks and can seriously injure a person.

If anyone jumps onto the tracks, station employees must first turn off the electricity.

And subway tracks have their limits as escape routes.

“Subway lines have tunnels, so anyone fleeing can only reach the platform of the next station,” said an official in charge of such matters.

In 2012, a man who jumped onto the tracks of the Midosuji subway line in central Osaka was caught by station employees after fleeing for a kilometer.

In the recent cases in Tokyo, it is not clear if any of the men were actually gropers.

However, some Internet postings suggest that commuters wrongly accused of groping should run away and avoid taking chances with the justice system.

“If you go to the station office with the person making the complaint, you will be arrested on the spot,” one entry said.

A high-ranking MPD officer disputes such claims.

“We do not make arrests every time a complaint is presented,” the officer said. “Decisions on whether to arrest an individual are made only after considering if there are third-party witnesses as well as looking over specific details of the complaint.”

Nobuyoshi Araki, a professor emeritus of law at Rikkyo University who is knowledgeable about false arrests in groping cases, said, “If the man did not do it, he should say so, stand his ground and ask for a lawyer.”

From a legal standpoint, Araki also recommended against jumping onto the tracks.

“There is the possibility of being accused of interfering with business operations and being asked for compensation by the railway company,” Araki said.

(This article was written by Hiroki Miyayama, Yohei Kobayakawa and Yuji Endo.)