Two Saturdays ago at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, amidst a roaring crowd, the permeating smell of alcohol, the blazing lights and the blasting sounds of country music singer Keith Urban, a 17-year-old girl endured a painful traumatic event: rape. According to police reports, the event took place in the front lawn of the venue, in plain view of onlookers, most of who just watched. Some even filmed the rape on their phones.
According to a Mansfield Police statement, officers were not aware of the situation until a witness approached them. She had asked the victim, who was lying on the ground, whether the act was consensual. The girl allegedly told the witness it wasn’t. The girl then broke free of the attacker, and fled into the crowd. Sean Murphy, 18, of West Roxbury was arrested and charged with sexual assault, and released two days later on bail. He has pleaded not guilty.
Also at this concert, 22 people ended up hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, 50 underage drinkers were taken into protective custody, and many more were treated for injuries and arrested for public intoxication.
Though large public events that permit alcohol consumption are not unheard of, especially during the summer months, rape is inexcusable. What could have been done to prevent the assault? To start with, the security measures for large events need to be re-evaluated. Where were the officers and security team to bring order into large, drinking crowds? At the July 26th concert, an estimated 18,000 attendees filled the Xfinity Center on that night alone. If the Xfnity Center can hold such a sizable crowd, it should also have an equally sizable and efficient security measures than the ones currently in place. Yet the police department in Mansfield had trouble responding to the demands of the large crowd, at the cost of preventing rape.
“We were very busy with a lot of things going on not the least of which was taking care of the (rape) victim,” Police Chief Ronald Sellon said to the Boston Herald.
In what was labeled by authorities as a “mass casualty incident,” police, fire departments and emergency medical teams from a half-dozen local communities responded to assist Mansfield authorities, as Urban’s “Raise ‘Em Up Tour” fans fell ill, passed out and injured themselves.
This is not the only incident to take place at the Xfinity Center that has questioned the effectiveness of the security at this venue. In 2012, two people –including a teenager –died of drug and alcohol overdose, 45 more were arrested on drug and alcohol charges, and countless more were hospitalized during an afternoon electronic music concert. These events led to a safety measures evaluation that authorities claim improved security at Xfinity Center. In spite of the changes, Mansfield authorities still are not able to supply enough security resources to oversee crowded events, and neither does the Xfinity Center, in spite of its popularity as a host for large, national-artist concerts. Owned and maintained by Comcast, the Xfinity Center hires a private ambulance and police service, but relies heavily on public authorities.
At the very least, security cameras should oversee the activities of the crowd. That Saturday it seems that the only ones available were the concertgoers’, some of who used them willingly to film the rape on their phones. A spokesman of the Bristol District Attorney’s Office said police obtained cellphone videos, which have not yet been examined for content.
Along with safety and emergency services, the law should check on alcohol consumption regulations at the Xfinity Center. The venue website states that alcoholic beverages are only sold to individuals with an official ID certifying their age, that no more than two alcoholic beverages are sold per person at one time, and that they do not serve drinks to people who seem intoxicated. But during the concert legally underage concertgoers inevitably mingle with alcohol-consuming adults. In the July 26th concert alone, 50 underage drinkers were taken into custody, and 22 people were hospitalized.
Besides alcohol, drugs –including PCP, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana –are available at Xfinity Center concerts. Though unreported in the recent event, in past concerts drug and alcohol overdose have led to arrests and even deaths.
This sad incident also brings into question how we view rape. The victim was assaulted in a public space, amidst the sights of many witnesses, of whom only one actively responded.
To what extent are we able to recognize sexual assault and to intervene? According to reports, many young people do not know what sexual assault looks like, especially when it is not knife-in-hand obvious. During this concert, a witness reported that he thought it was just “a couple having sex on the lawn,” while some who filmed the incident said they did so that the police could figure it out.
Misconceptions about what constitutes rape abound in our society. Some people believe that one has to dress or act a certain way to be raped, or that if it happens, one must have “asked for it.”
Our schools and social institutions need to do a better job in teaching us what constitutes sexual violence and consent, and how to respond when witnessing sexual assault, or any other crimes. Research studies reveal that may factors determine whether or not a person will intervene when observing a crime: noting and interpreting the situation, feeling personally responsible for the safety of others and powerful enough to take action, having practical “scripts” to follow, and feeling that others around them will support them. Before responding, people also see the reactions of other people in the emergency situation, to determining whether it is or not an emergency.
If our society is not teaching better methods to react to crimes, parents should take precautions when sending their teenagers to concerts and similarly frenzied events. It is important to openly talk about sexual assault with our teenagers, and discuss the adverse health and legal effects of underage alcohol drinking and other drugs. Teenagers should also be wary of the food and beverages offered at the venues, and to understand the possible situations they might encounter in these environments. It is also advised that teenagers attend concerts along with friends, rather than by themselves, and to know who to ask for help in case of an emergency. As for identifying rape, we along with our children need to be taught to speak up.
If you or a loved one is victim of a sexual assault at a concert, stadium or any other open venue in Massachusetts, we encourage you to contact our Sexual Assault Attorneystoday. With nearly 50 years of experience in personal injury cases and lawsuits, our expert team of veteran lawyers at Altman & Altman LLP will thoroughly evaluate your case, and relentlessly pursue a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit against your aggressor as well as against any other parties that could and should have prevented the assault from taking place. We can assure you we will provide you the most comprehensive legal services available, as we have successfully done in the past for our many esteemed clients. We are available anytime to answer any questions regarding your case. For your free initial consultation, please call Altman & Altman LLP today.
By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.
The original news report on this topic may be found here.