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Athletes and Acquaintance Rape

NCJ Number
J R Benedict
Date Published
117 pages
This study examines issues related to male athletes' involvement in acquaintance rape, with attention to three high- profile cases in which professional athletes had been charged with sexual assault.
The three cases selected are Massachusetts v. Marcus Webb (1993); Victoria C. v. The Cincinnati Bengals (1993); and Indiana v. Mike Tyson (1992). All of these cases illustrate the problems associated with establishing violations of consent to sexual involvement by athletes. The author's analysis is not based solely on these three cases, however; in addition, he researched more than 300 cases of alleged sexual violence that involved athletes. Along with tracking the disposition of each complaint, the author examined the facts and circumstance of each case. This was done by reviewing published reports, court documents, and, when possible, interviewing district attorneys, police, and defense attorneys directly involved in the cases. Personal interviews were conducted with the professional athletes (defendants and teammates) where possible, as well as victims, defense lawyers, police investigators, prosecutors, presiding judges, jurors, and witnesses. Various court documents were reviewed as well. The author concludes that short of analyzing the attitudes and behaviors of athletes on a case-by-case basis, it is speculative to link sports participation with sex crimes. The deviant sexual behaviors of some of today's celebrated athletes are a much stronger link to the sex crimes they commit. Continuous engagement in sexual activity with random partners and the attitudes toward women that such conduct fosters are a much greater cause of athletes' abuse of women than the mere fact of their athletic prowess and training. In short, the problem of rape by athletes is much more a result of their celebrity and their attendant self-concepts and public awe than their occupation as athletes. 60 references and a subject index


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