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Rape Charges Latest Blow to Woodstock ’99

Rape Charges Latest Blow to Woodstock ’99

It became clear that Woodstock ’99 wasn’t about peace as soon as
mosh pit injuries began to mount, but now it’s becoming obvious
that the three-day festival wasn’t about love either.| In the days
since the festival, four women have filed reports of sexual assault
with the New York State Police Department, adding to the impression
that the only thing shared between Woodstock ’99 and its 1969
namesake was the rock & roll.

Three of the women who filed charges claimed to have been assaulted
in the festival’s camping area and the fourth said that she was
raped by multiple strangers in a mosh pit during Limp Bizkit’s
Saturday night set, according to reports. Dr. John Connell, who
acted as Associate Director of Psychiatry for Woodstock Medicine,
said that his unit actually saw several patients who said they had
been sexually assaulted — cases ranging in severity from groping
to penetration — but that a number of those patients did not
initially choose to file reports.

“There’s a lot of it out there, I’m sure,” said Connell. “If you
think about what usually happens, it’s like a crescendo effect. You
get one or two that come out then all of a sudden you get a whole
series. I would expect there will be more, and I would expect that
they will be less clear as to how they can be looked at because
there won’t be evidence.”

Police department officials, as well as crisis counselors who had
treated sexual assault victims, were decidedly button-lipped about
the investigations this morning, but yesterday state Police Captain
John Wood told the Associated Press, “It’s going to be difficult to
pursue this because people have scattered to all parts of the
country. But we are not going to drop our investigations. We are
going to do everything we can to close them by arrest.”

Connell points out the dismaying lack of crowd intervention in
these publicly violent acts, but Dr. Paul Ramirez, who acted as the
Director of Psychiatry, notes that audience members’ failure to
come to the aid of their peers isn’t that surprising. “It goes back
to an [established] idea in psychology,” he said. “It’s known that
if you get hurt, the fewer people that are around, the more likely
you are to be helped by someone. In crowds, people will tend to
think that someone else will help.”

“The whole notion of a community and sharing and helping and
pulling everyone together, it gets lost in some of the lack of
respect that people had for other people,” Connell said, comparing
the festival to the original Woodstock.

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On a more pragmatic note, though, Ramirez commented: “Throwing
psychology aside for a minute, in a crowd this size, there are
going to be a certain number of assholes. There are going to be a
certain number of people who are like that, whether or not they’re
at a concert. And, here, they were kind of given a license to go
wild.”

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