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RAPE WITHIN INSTITUTIONS

Unlike the previous topics, which involve child molesters and rapists relying on their positions of authority, this section discusses other institutions that have been accused of creating an atmosphere in which persons who are not necessarily in any position of authority commit rape. Examples include, athletes, university students, inmates, and the military. For these organizations and institutions, administrators bear the responsibility of preventing rape and creating policies and procedures to effectively respond to rape allegations.

Professional and University Athletic Organizations

Recently several high-profile cases, one involving Kobe Bryant and another involving several Duke lacrosse team members, directed attention to athletes who commit rape. Both of these cases, however, did not result in convictions due to lack of evidence. Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel employee. He admitted to having sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual. Subsequently, the judge dropped the criminal charges after the accuser refused to testify as a witness. A civil suit was also filed and settled for an undisclosed amount of money (Shapiro & Stevens, 2004).

The Duke lacrosse scandal began when strippers were requested at a party held off-campus at a home where the captains of the team resided. One of the strippers made rape allegations, which led to the arrest of two of the Duke lacrosse team members. The prosecutor in the case was disbarred for making false allegations during a criminal proceeding. Charges were dropped against the defendants for lack of evidence (Cohan, 2014).

The research on athletes who have committed sex crimes is embedded in the broader topic of athletes who have committed diverse crimes, including murder, assault and battery, weapons charges, and illegal substance abuse (Otto, 2009). Thus, athletes commit not only rape, but also other crimes. With regard to athletes' propensity to commit sex crimes, researchers have found in a comparison of athletes and non-athletes that the athletes have higher rates of reported sex crimes (Chandler, Johnson, & Carroll, 1999; Crossett, Ptacek, McDonald, & Benedict, 1996). Fifteen percent of the athletes reported fondling someone against his/her will, compared to only 5% of non-athletes. Seven percent of athletes reported forcing someone to have sex, compared to 2% of non-athletes. Also, in a study of professional and collegiate athlete convictions from 1991 to 2008, Otto (2009) found 86 athletes were charged with 144 crimes. Fifty-nine percent of the charges involved a sex crime or rape. Twenty-five percent of those who were charged with a sex crime had a reduced charge, whereas 89% of those charged with rape also had a reduced charge. Approximately one-third of those charged with a sex crime or rape received a prison sentence. This corroborates other research that has found that sex-crime allegations against an athlete were more likely than those against non-athletes to result in an arrest and indictment, but less likely to result in a conviction (Benedict & Klein, 1997).

Researchers also have found that approximately one in five National Football League (NFL) players had been charged with a serious crime. Fourteen percent of those crimes were sexual assaults. Very few of those charges, however, led to a conviction (Benedict & Klein, 1997). According to these studies (Benedict & Klein, 1997; Otto, 2009), sex crimes make up a noteworthy portion of crimes committed by athletes. Sports sociologists have proposed that sports are a microcosm of society. That is, athletes' behavior is a reflection of society in general (Coakley, 2007).

Researchers have focused attention on the rape culture that can occur within sports. For example, one researcher noted a recipe for sexual assault:

Assemble a group of young men. Promise them glory for violently dominating other groups of young men. Bond the group with aggressive joking about the sexual domination of women. Add public adulation that permeates the group with the scent of entitlement. Provide mentors who thrived as young men in the same system. Allow to simmer.

(Wade, Sweeney, Derr, Messner, & Burke, 2014, p. 22)

It is important to note, however, that most athletes do not rape (Wade et al., 2014). Many higher education institutions have implemented programs, such as "Male Athletes against Rape," which involves peer education and encourages bystanders to respond to factors that can lead to rape. Such programs focus on disrupting layers of protective silence that surround high status male groups (e.g., college athletes), which serve to facilitate a rape culture (Wade et al., 2014). The bystander approach encourages students who witness situations, such as a group of men assisting a drunk woman to an isolated location, to intervene and prevent this from occurring (Moynihan, Banyard, Arnold, Eckstein, & Stapleton, 2010). It is clear that a culture of "silence" can perpetuate sexual assaults, as in the case of Jerry Sandusky where many bystanders simply did nothing when they witnessed sexual behaviors. Routine values and a culture of silence in higher education institutions can lead to rape incidents (Wade et al., 2014). This can occur within athletic organizations as well as more broadly in institutions of higher education (Wade et al., 2014).

 
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