Kristen Lombardi’s project about sexual assault on campuses, Bernard Lefkowitz’s Our Guys

Bernard Lefkowitz writes about rape in suburban New Jersey; Kristen Lombardi tackles the issue on the nation's campuses

Dart Fellow Kristen Lombardi and the Center for Public Integrity have released the first part of what promises to be a groundbreaking series about the often mystifying processes colleges use to handle sexual assaults of women on campus.

Lombardi blends legal information, survivors’ accounts in print and multi-media form, and a detailed explanation of the various ways campuses deal with this widespread problem (She cites one study that estimates that as many as one in five women is sexually assaulted during her college years.).

In this opening installation of this nine-month investigation, Lombardi paints a devastating picture of an ineffective system that often humiliates and isolates the victim while doing little to punish the perpetrator.  A reporter’s tool kit  full of useful information for other people seeking to investigate the subject further is included, too.

It’s a bravura performance by Lombardi, who previously has done outstanding work on the church sex abuse scandal and the environmental havoc wreaked by the coal industry.

While the initial part of this project focused on colleges’ procedures for handling sexual assaults, Bernard Lefkowitz writes in Our Boys about a suburban New Jersey community that gave tacit permission to, and then supported, young male rapists in their abuse of Leslie Faber, a young developmentally delayed woman.

Our Boys is set in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the home of Thomas Maypother, later known the world over as Tom Cruise.  The leafy, nearly all-white suburb gave an air of being unchanged since its founding in the late 1800s. 

But there was a dark side to this seemingly idyllic enclave. Martin Clayton, my former boss at South Shore Community News, told me that he used to refuse to deliver pizzas in the town because he would inevitably be stopped by the police and asked why he, a black man, was int the community.

The town privileged its athletes, the “boys’ in the title, who often destroyed houses at weekend parties and treated women and property with equal doses of contempt.

The details of exactly what happened in the basement between a number of the boys and the young woman will likely never be fully resolved, and Lefkowitz made it clear that some violation occurred with a baseball bat and a broomstick.

This is chilling enough, and the true outrage of Lefkowitz’s book is how the townspeople support the boys as their actions become more known.  Lefkowitz strikes an effective balance between providing enough detail to let the reader judge for herself while also making it clear where he stands.

It’s unnerving content, but an area that we must confront if we are to make any dent in the problem.  Lombardi and Lefkowitz deserve praise for bringing this critical issue, and the lack of accountability, to light.

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5 responses to “Kristen Lombardi’s project about sexual assault on campuses, Bernard Lefkowitz’s Our Guys

  1. jeffkellylowenstein3

    Thanks for sharing this, Susan. Good luck with your project.

    Jeff

  2. At my alma mater in the mid-80’s, it took an exceptionally violent attack on a young woman in the on-campus suite in which she lived by a young man who beat open her door to move the University from in camera investigations and disciplinary actions – done, it said, to separate the University’s action from any legal procedures and questions of legal culpability . Like rape and sexual assault in general, however, colleges and universities have to deal as much with the stigma associated with reporting as anything; young women, and men, need to be encouraged by peers and officials to report cases of alleged sexual assault, and networks of support, including counseling services geared toward providing advocates for victims, would go a long way in this direction.

    I’m a big fan of this kind of thing – providing direct, face-to-face support networks. Having known quite a few women, young and old, who have survived sexual assault and rape, more than anything, I have heard how the isolation of the victim creates a barrier that prevents moving forward, including reporting the incident.

    I would like to read this, I think. . .

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, Geoff, for this comment. Unfortunately, it often takes a brutal event to prompt action on issues like rape. I agree with you about the isolation of the victim being a major barrier toward healing.

      Jeff

  3. Dear Americans;
    I believe society must change crime victim mentality.
    No one told me what to do after the boogie man did get me and let me go. We need to get post-assault education one step in front of the victim.
    Pre-assault information should include the post-assault trauma, short/long term issues survivors experience.
    I was deceived in 1978 while in the Marine Corps by a ual predator in Southern California. The abduction/assault involved a ruse and alcohol with in it. I survived also, I still have a circular burn scar on my left hand.
    I never told anyone until July 6th 2007. Then all the repressed emotions, memories and the impact the male/male had on my life.
    On April 8th 2008 I found the man who abducted me on the internet. He was caught with a ed Marine in the mid-1980’s and is on row.
    Over the last two years I wrote the 203 Survivorship Guidelines Series. I wrote them for parents, professionals and survivors of ual abuse.
    These guidelines are not prevention information, they give the reader knowledge of how to survive the actual assault and what to expect emotionally after a crime.
    Sadly most parents access post-assault info after the assault.
    Not a compilation, I wrote with the core of my consciousness as a guide. They are in short form and long form. The long form is my non-graphic narrative of what I did to bring back the person I was before the assault.
    I wrote them for me to process the twenty-nine years of unacknowledged trauma. Then others wanted the information to educate their loved ones.
    The Series is in three booklets, not published yet but in manuscript and formal proposal status, the short version can be reviewed by initiating a search for;
    *70 guidelines for hostage survival
    *66 guidelines for crime victims
    *49 daily guidelines for ual abuse survivors
    Or I have them on my Facebook.com pages in
    my NOTES

    HRT/S = Hostage /Survivorship

    H-seek HELP
    R-REPORT the crime
    T-TALK about the trauma
    S-seek SURVIVORSHIP

    The stats for in the military are women– 41% to 47% for men it is 13.7% no kidding, and the reporting and mental health care is BAD.

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, Douglas, for your comment and your work on this issue. I am sorry to learn about what happened to you, but glad to know that you are working to help others.

      Jeff

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