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The appalling events that took place in the basement of the Scherzer home in Glen Ridge cannot be considered anything but a crime. A young retarded woman, Leslie, was sexually attacked and raped by a group of high school jocks that she idolized (Lefkowitz, 21). She was abused in ways no woman should have to be treated by a group of male teenagers that were gods in the town of Glen Ridge. The question that would arise during the course of the trial was whether Leslie was capable of saying no given her IQ and her mental retardation.

While Leslie was giving her account of what happened in the basement to an investigator on the case, Shelia Byron, she was embarrassed and seemed to understand that what the boys had done to her was wrong. However, she also stated that she still wanted them to like her and that she did not want to get them into trouble (Lefkowitz, 32). Byron quickly realized that in order to get justice for Leslie it was going to be necessary to prove that Leslie was retarded and unable to understand that what happened to her was a crime. This case is without a doubt a crime.

Rape is always a crime no matter who the victim is and whether or not the victim understands that a crime is being committed. Leslie may not have known or even understood what rape was but she knew something was not right and she did not want the boys to do it again even though she desperately wanted them to like her. What these boys did goes far beyond a crummy thing to do. Treating Leslie in a crummy manner may be teasing her or throwing things at her; not raping her with a baseball bat and a broomstick and then bragging about it to friends at school.

When the boys lured Leslie into the basement and decided to sexually attack her, they crossed the line from crummy teenage pranks to outright crime. The fact that the boys knew what they were doing and knew what rape and sexual assault consisted of is proof positive that their actions were far beyond crummy. The boys who received sentences deserved far more punishment for their crimes. The judge tried to bring justice to Leslie and her family while also staying true to the traditions of small towns where high school jocks are idols.

Football players are at the top of the hierarchy in small towns like Glen Ridge and Leslie seemed to understand how much they were admired, loved and protected by the residents because she idolized them in much the same way. However, the case is hard to both defend and prosecute because Leslie changes her story several times and sometimes even appears to have enjoyed the attention. Despite these facts, Leslie was a mentally retarded young girl with the I. Q. of a second grader and could inno way be expected to make a logical and mature decision regarding sexual acts.

The decision from the judge sends the message to small town male high school jocks everywhere that they are above the law. The decision in this case allows high school jocks to continue to misbehave and/or commit crimes with barely a slap on the wrist. From petty crimes such as indecent exposure similar to Kevin Scherzer’s habit of mooning classmates and showing his genitals to the girls (Lefkowitz, 78), to rape and sexual assault, male jocks are made to believe that they are special and can get away with anything.

It also sends the message to males that if a woman does not understand rape or sex than it is all right to rape her because it cannot be considered a crime. The guilty verdicts passed down to the four boys prove that the law does not exclude mentally handicapped citizens from being victims when a rape has occurred. At the same time, the trial was harmful to Leslie, her family and other residents of Glen Ridge.

Young girls began to look at male jocks in a whole new light and many began to fear boys (Lefkowitz, 78). Leslie was also cast in an unfair light as she was presented by the defense as a young woman looking to seduce the high school boys. Instead of being protected, Leslie was not made to look like a victim but a facilitator of the crime. Overall, from the time the crime was committed in the basement until the time the boys were found guilty, Glen Ridge was split.

Many believed that what the boys did could not be considered a crime while others believed the boys went much too far and should be criminally punished for their actions. The eventual decision sent the message that rape was not as a serious as people are led to believe and that male high school jocks are exempt from the same punishments as “typical” rapists. Lefkowitz, Bernard. Our Guys. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.

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