This crime is horrifying.

The 2009 Richmond High School gang rape occurred on Saturday, October 24, 2009, in Richmond, a San Francisco suburb of California, U.S., when a 15-year-old female student of Richmond High School was reported as repeatedly raped by a group of young males in a courtyard on the school campus while a homecoming dance was being held in the gymnasium.

On the “bystander effect“:

Meg Bossong [’05], coordinator of Community Education and Outreach at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, said the case suggested elements of the bystander effect, in which people are less likely to respond to an emergency when there are others around.

“That idea [is] that the more people there are around, the fewer people will get involved because there’s a diffusion of responsibility,” she said. “Not stepping in sends the message that it’s not such a big deal. … This is something that we hear a lot about around crime and also around sexual assault.”

The element of sexual violence in the alleged attack at Richmond High School may have contributed to observers’ apparent inaction.

“Because the weapon in sexual assault is a sex act, people see that as private,” Bassong said, even though such violence is a community issue. “There’s a complexity to it that may not exist if the weapon was not sexual.”

The problem can be exacerbated, she added, by confusing messages from movies, television and pornography, which can portray relationships involving power and dominance as acceptable, healthy sexual behavior.

Meg is a wonderful person who was very involved in R.A.S.A.N. (Rape And Sexual Assault Network) during her time at Williams.

How many current Williams student attended a school like Richmond High? Williams alumni have thousands of children under the age of 18 right now. How many of them go to places like Richmond? I have never heard of one . . .

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