The brutal murder in 1964 of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese in the New York City borough of Queens gave rise to a coinage: The bystander effect. Also known as the Genovese effect, after the victim, the term applies to the indifference of onlookers in nearby dwellings, who averted their gaze as the stabbing was taking place.
The murder of this young woman predated cellphone video technology. Not so a young unidentified coed at Ohio University's Athens campus, who claims she was being raped on a public street near the campus as fellow students watched and uploaded pictures.
According to New York’s Daily News:
As many as 10 people watched and tweeted pictures and even a video of the act while describing both their shock and humor of the scene unfolding, according to students who broadcast the scene on Twitter.
The couple, described as being in their early 20s, is seen in several shots leaning against a Chase Bank window on Court Street — just a block from the Athens police station — as the man has oral sex with her.
Links to the pictures, since deleted, were immediately trumpeted on the Web, including by a university nightlife blog, Athens Tonight, and a woman who sent it to former Revenge Porn manager, Hunter Moore, while boasting of having witnessed the scene first hand.
But the woman is insisting that this was not a consensual or playful romp. She insists it was out-and-out assault, which is what she reported to police Sunday night.
In a video report by station 10TV, Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle says that the behavior by the people who stood by and watched and did nothing to help is just as shocking, if not more, than the crime itself:
The community at large views this as they watched and witnessed a sexual assault occurring, and did nothing but watch. But the flipside of that is that they may not have realized what they were witnessing.
Allie Erwin, a senior, expresses outrage:
Our first instinct as a community was not to intervene and help this woman, but to post it on social media, and make a mockery of probably the most traumatic experience of her life.
But a student website, Total Frat Move, provides a different account of what (excuse the expression) went down:
The video is 1:27 in length. The male was clearly providing oral sex to the female. Generally speaking, the two appeared to be willing participants who were, frankly, enjoying themselves. At one point in the video, the female put her right hand on the back of the male’s head while he was engaged. This lasted about eight seconds. Two different times in the video, the male looked around at different onlookers and exchanged words with them. This was in response to jeers they hurled at the couple. His words were unintelligible.
The site also quotes an anonymous source as stating that “the two oral enthusiasts posed for pictures with each other and with several bystanders after they were finished.”
The Daily News writes that as of Tuesday night, the male suspect remained free and uncharged.
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