On Saturday night, a 17-year old teen was allegedly assaulted at a Keith Urban concert on the lawn of the Xfinity Center in Boston, while a crowd gathered to watch, some taking videos and pictures instead of intervening.
According to the Sun Chronicle, the alleged assault took place after the girl, who had been drinking, began kissing 18-year-old Sean Murphy of Boston near one of the venue’s concession stands. When Murphy began to drag the girl away from her friends to a different area of the lawn, the girl said she went with him because “she was afraid of what would happen” if she didn’t.
As a crowd formed around what one person described as “a couple having sex on the lawn,” some began taking pictures and videos of the assault while the concert continued in the background. One woman in the crowd decided to ask the girl if she was consenting, and when the girl said no, she pulled Murphy off her. Murphy disappeared into the crowd, but was later caught by police after they quarantined the concert venue looking for a suspect.
On Monday, Murphy pleaded not guilty to allegations of rape in the Attleboro District Court Monday claiming the incident was consensual. Police collected some of the video and images taken of the assault to use as evidence in the impending trial.
Earlier this month, a 16-year old named Jada saw pictures taken during her rape go viral when classmates posted the images online, mocking the teen’s unconscious body by taking replica photos of themselves in similar positions with the hashtag #jadapose. The Texas teen has since spoken out about her rape on several national news outlets and sparked a social media movement after posting a picture of herself, fist raised with a sign with the hastag #IAmJada.
Jada’s wasn’t the only case that has made headlines in recent months. In Steubenville, Ohio, video of two high schoolers sexually assaulting an unconscious girl surfaced during a case that spotlighted the high numbers of sexual assault cases where victims have been videotaped or photographed. Included in that number are four Vanderbilt football players who allegedly gang-raped an unconscious woman and spread pictures of her to the rest of their team, a 17-year old Canadian girl who committed suicide after pictures of her rape spread throughout her school, and a Chicago woman whose gang-rape went viral after it was posted on Vine. All these cases highlight a new brand of bystander affect, in which victims are left helpless while onlookers use their phones to capture assaults instead of intervening.
Shannon Greenwood is an intern at ThinkProgress.