Glen Ridge rape
Map of Glen Ridge, New Jersey
|Date||March 1, 1989|
|Location||Glen Ridge, New Jersey|
In 1989, a mentally handicapped girl was raped with a broomstick and a baseball bat by members of the Glen Ridge High School football team in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. This event attracted nationwide attention, mainly due to the perception that the assailants had been given special treatment by the school and local authorities due to their status as local football stars. The events were later documented in a book and TV movie.
The assault occurred on March 1, 1989. The victim left her house the afternoon of the incident to go play basketball in Cartaret Park. On the way, she found a stick which she decided to keep. When she arrived at the park, many of the school's athletes were there, either watching or participating in an informal baseball practice. One of the boys came over to her, and asked her to come down to a basement of a nearby house for a party. The house was adjacent to the park and the owners were in Florida, with only the grandmother being home at that time.
After initially refusing, she agreed when told her that the boy's brother, (whom she had a crush on), would go on a date with her. He put his arm around the victim and escorted her to the basement. When they reached the basement, 12 boys from the park were there. After some conversation, one of the boys removed his pants and underpants and the victim removed her shirt. At this point, a sophomore and another underclassman left. A total of six boys left while the victim undressed.
Seven boys stayed, all football players, and all seniors but one. The victim was then orally raped. She was forced to bend over and the boys took turns vaginally penetrating her. The victim was then penetrated with a broom by two of those present, and she was penetrated with a baseball bat. The broom and bat were covered with plastic bags coated with Vaseline. At one point during the rape, one of the athletes passively suggested that they stop. The victim did not resist because she thought that letting these boys do these things to her would make them like her and want to be her friend. After it was over, she promised not to tell, in a kind of team cheer/pact. She then waited outside the house for a long time, waiting for the promised date, which never happened.
A number of boys later attempted to get the victim to come down to the basement a second time to repeat the incident. The first staff member to report the incident was a teacher who overheard a student discussing the rumors with a classmate. The student had been asked earlier to videotape a planned second incident (which never took place). The vice principal then called the police on March 22, three weeks after the assault occurred. Police interviewed the vice principal and the victim’s swim coach, the latter of whom had heard about the incident from the victim herself three days after the incident. Detective Lieutenant Richard Corcoran (Sr.) put Detective Sheila Byron in charge of investigating the case. Byron’s main focus was to establish if the victim had given consent, or whether she was incapable of giving consent.
During her interviews with the victim, it became clear to Byron that the victim did not completely understand what had happened to her, so she would not have known she could say no. During the investigation, it became clear that the victim still wanted the athletes to like her, and that she did not want to get them in trouble.
Byron realized she would need independent corroboration, because the victim might not make a convincing witness in a trial. The prosecutor's office officially became involved with the investigation on April 7, and officially took control on April 12.
First public reports
The first public report of the incident was on May 23, 1989, by the local NBC station WNBC-TV. Over the next few days the story was picked up in newspapers across the United States and Canada. The New York Times and Washington Post ran their first articles regarding the incident on May 25, 1989, the same day the story was picked up by newspapers in Lewiston, Maine and Spokane, Washington. The Toronto Star became the first foreign newspaper to carry the story on May 26, the same day the story hit newspapers in northern Alabama and Tampa Bay, Florida.
Trial, verdict and appeals
After a twenty-three week long trial in 1992/1993, Christopher Archer and Kevin Scherzer were convicted of a second-degree count of conspiracy, and two first-degree counts of aggravated sexual assault with the bat and broom. Kyle Scherzer was found guilty of second-degree conspiracy, first-degree aggravated sexual assault by use of force or coercion, and second-degree attempted aggravated sexual assault. A fourth person was convicted of a single third-degree conspiracy charge. (First-degree aggravated sexual assault is how rape is prosecuted in New Jersey.)
Christopher Archer, Kevin Scherzer, and Kyle Scherzer were all sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in a "young adult offenders" prison. The fourth person was sentenced to three years of probation and two hundred hours of community service. All three defendants were granted bail pending appeal.
On appeal, the convictions for the minor offenses were reversed, but the convictions for the major offense of first-degree aggravated sexual assault were upheld, with Kyle Scherzer's sentence being reduced to seven years. All three began serving their sentences in 1997.
In 2004, after all three had served their prison sentences, they again appealed their convictions to try to clear their names and to stay off New Jersey’s sexual offender registry. The convictions were upheld.
Bernard Lefkowitz wrote a book about the Glen Ridge Rape called Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb. The book attributes many of the problems with the football players to the society's (as well as the town's and the parents') heavy influence on winning and success rather than on personal character. The book was later adapted into a TV movie.
The events of the Glen Ridge Rape were adapted into a television movie called Our Guys: Outrage at Glen Ridge which premiered on ABC in 1999, and is occasionally shown on Lifetime. The film, directed by Guy Ferland, stars Ally Sheedy, Eric Stoltz, and Heather Matarazzo, and is an adaptation of Bernard Lefkowitz's book. The rape scene of the film was toned down due to the film being on broadcast television. Some of the things described in Lefkowitz's book were left out of the film. The film renamed several characters and invented some new ones. The film also altered the time-line of events, moving the time of the rape being reported in the Fall (it is football season and the film opens on homecoming night), when in reality, the rape was reported in the Spring.
- Detective Kelly Brooks (Ally Sheedy)
- Prosecutor Robert Laurino (Eric Stoltz) — Stoltz also narrates a brief summary of the later lives of some of the characters at the film's end.
- Leslie Faber (Heather Matarazzo), a pseudonym assigned to the victim by Bernard Lefkowitz
- Ros Faber (Sara Botsford)
- Paul Archer (Scott Vickaryous) — In the film, he suggests to his friends that they stop, although Kyle Scherzer actually is solely responsible.
- Lt. Frank Bennett (Eric Keenleyside)
- Charles Faber (Michael Tomlinson)
- Doug Archer (Art Hindle)
- Mrs. Archer (Gwynyth Walsh)
- Barry Bennett (Brendan Fehr)
- Chris Archer (Tygh Runyan)
- John Tierney (Kett Turton)
- Carl Brewer (Doron Bell)
- Bryant Grover (Derek Hamilton)
- Officer Balke (Lochlyn Munro)
- Mr. Jack Scherzer (Stephen Miller)
- Kevin Scherzer (Ryan Taylor)
- Kyle Scherzer (Will Sanderson)
- Peter Quigley (Aaron Smolinski)
- Mari Farreaz (Carly Pope)
- Amy Ryan (Amber Rothwell) — The party at this character's house actually happened two years before the events depicted in the film.
- Judge Cohen (David Abbott)
- Bernard Lefkowitz (1997). Our guys: the Glen Ridge rape and the secret life of the perfect suburb. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20596-0.
- Special to The New York Times (1989-05-25). "5 Youths Held in Sex Assault On Mentally Impaired Girl, 17". Glen Ridge (Nj): NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Yen, Marianne (May 25, 1989). "New Jersey Students Charged in Sex Assault Of Retarded Girl". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Student arrested, The Lewiston Journal - May 25, 1989
- Additional arrests possible after assault on mentally retarded girl, Spokane Chronicle - May 25, 1989
- "5 teenagers charged in sex attack on girl". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. May 26, 1989. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Sexual assault case leaves town divided, Gadsden Times - May 26, 1989
- "5 high school students are charged in assault of retarded teen-ager". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1989-05-26. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Hanl, Robert (March 17, 1993). "4 Are Convicted in Sexual Abuse Of Retarded New Jersey Woman". The New York Times.
- Lefkowitz, page 417
- "Our Guys: Outrage at Glen Ridge". The New York Times. 1999.
- "Outrage in Glen Ridge". myLifetime.com. 2010-04-15. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Adubato, Steve (2008). What Were They Thinking?: Crisis Communication, The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Clueless. Rutgers University Press. pp. 68–78. ISBN 978-0-8135-4361-1.
- Laufer, Peter (1994). A Question of Consent: Innocence and Complicity in the Glen Ridge Rape Case. San Francisco: Mercury House. ISBN 1-56279-059-5.
- Lefkowitz, Bernard (1997). Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Life of the Perfect Suburb. University of California Press. ISBN 0520918037.
- ""Our Guys" excerpt". Salon. Retrieved 2010-07-31.