Year of Publication
Arts and Sciences
Bachelor of Science
Dr. Jonathan M. Golding
The issue of rape continues to be of concern in the United States. Rape is defined as any unwanted or forcible penetration without consent (United States Department of Justice, 2017). More specifically, rape can include sexual violence tactics such as force, threats, manipulation, or coercion (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2022). The magnitude of the issue of rape has been demonstrated, with adult rape data showing that on average, 319,950 people over the age of 12 were raped or sexually assaulted in the United States annually in 2020 (Morgan, 2021). Furthermore, every sixty-eight seconds an American is raped (Morgan). Finally, one in six women have been victims of rape or attempted rape in the United States in their lifetime (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998) and 90% of rape victims are female (Planty, 2013). As stated above, females are at a greater risk for becoming victims of rape, but more specifically, college women are a rising subpopulation of victims. At the collegiate level, 26.4% of females will experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation during their time in college (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 2016). Within the college community, the questioning of “Who?” and “Why?” must come about. Huff (2022) claimed that college is a new environment, full of pressure to adjust, take part in social life, and feel compelled to conform, particularly for first year and second-year students, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence and assault. It was also found that college women were especially at risk for becoming victims of sexual violence and assault due to various factors including being unmarried, frequently drinking to get drunk, and living oncampus (Fisher et al., 2000). Although these factors play a role, it is critical to notice the culprits of these issues. It’s apparent that women are more likely to experience rape by men during their time in college, but it is also important to note highlight who is committing these crimes. Colleges include a diverse population of students. This includes student athletes, given that college athletics are part of the culture and core identity of colleges. Data indicates that male college athletes rape female students relatively often. For example, Johnson (1991) found that a male college athlete raped a female once every 18 days and these males were 40% more likely to commit rape than the average male college student (Johnson, 1991). Other data indicates that male athletes were more likely to have higher rates of using sexual coercion compared to non-athletes (Young, 2017). Finally, college athlete data also indicates that male athletes have a lower attitude toward women, meaning they view women with less respect and value—a risk factor for sexual violence (Kimble et al., 2010). Despite the above points about male college athletes, only two empirical studies have looked at potential connections between male student-athletes and the perpetration of sexual assaults (McCray, 2019). The purpose of the present study is to examine how collegiate athlete status impacts perceptions of rape cases in the courtroom.
Salyers, Sophia, "College Athletes as Defendants in Rape Trials: The Impact on Legal Decision-Making" (2023). Lewis Honors College Thesis Collection. 4.