The Glen Ridge Rape Incident

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On March 1, 1989, a group of teenage males, including several student-athletes, lured a mentally disabled 17-year-old girl into the basement of the home of two of the athletes and raped her. One of the boys, Christopher Archer, brought the girl, whose IQ was 64, from the park where she had been playing basketball to the basement where twins Kyle and Kevin Scherzer lived. Archer had promised the girl a date with his brother, Paul, if she went with him. When they arrived, Paul Archer, the Scherzer twins, Richard Corcoran, Peter Quigley, and Bryant Grober commanded the girl to masturbate and then perform various sex acts on them. They sexually assaulted her with a broomstick and a baseball bat, and then threatened to tell her mother if she told anyone. Given the girl’s mental capacity, said to be that of an eight-year-old, she did not reveal the incident for several days.

The boys, however, bragged about what they had done, and rumors began to circulate around the community. Eventually, the girl told her swimming coach at the special school she attended. The police were notified and officers questioned her as well as the boys she implicated. On May 24, 1989, the Scherzer twins, Peter Quigly, and the Archer brothers were arrested and charged with several crimes each. Richard Corcoran was arrested a few months later.

As the boys awaited trial, the affluent town of Glen Ridge tried to make sense of what had happened. Many blamed the girl, claiming she was promiscuous and had previously exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior. Some students at Glen Ridge High School defended their classmates and athletic idols, and one even tried to trick the girl into admitting she had consented to the sex acts in the basement. Yet others defended the girl and pointed out that several of the accused had histories of violent and deviant behavior but had been allowed to act with relative impunity because of their status as jocks.

Christopher Archer and Peter Quigley accepted plea bargains and agreed to work with the prosecution to testify against the others. The defense tried to paint a picture of the boys as being wholesome and the girl as a sexual deviant during the five-month trial. The prosecution introduced evidence of rape trauma syndrome, the first time such evidence had been allowed in a New Jersey court. The jury deliberated for 12 days before finding the defendants guilty of various charges. Christopher Archer and the Scherzer twins were sentenced to serve at a juvenile detention facility. Richard Corcoran was never tried and actually won a $200,000 settlement against the Essex County prosecutor’s office for malicious prosecution. The Associated Press reported in 2005 that he had shot his wife and another man and then killed himself at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was a Special Forces soldier.

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References:

  1. Atkinson, A. (Ed.). (2009). Battleground sports, volume 2. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
  2. Finley, L. (Ed.). (2007). Encyclopedia of juvenile violence. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
  3. Finley, P., Finley, L., & Fountain, J. (2008). Sports scandals. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  4. Laufer, P. (1994). A question ofconsent: Innocence and complicity in Glen Ridge rape case. San Francisco, CA: Mercury House.
  5. Lefkowitz, B. (1997). Our guys. New York: Vintage.

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