Sports and Sexual Assault

April 28, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 16
Can colleges and pro leagues curb abuse by athletes?
By Susan Ladika

Introduction

Baylor University President Kenneth Starr (Getty Images/Cooper Neill)
Baylor University President Kenneth Starr, shown at a football game in 2012, was demoted and then resigned in 2016 following criticism that the university had not taken sexual assault allegations against football players seriously. The scandal also claimed Baylor's athletics director and head football coach. (Getty Images/Cooper Neill)

Hundreds of college and professional athletes, along with some college and Olympic coaches, have been accused of sexual assault in recent years, including gang rape. While athletes have gone to prison for their sex crimes, studies show that relatively few accusations lead to arrest or conviction. Researchers say schools, leagues and Olympic organizations frequently have failed to investigate credible allegations and that sports programs have ignored or covered up sex crimes by star athletes, who often receive preferential treatment from schools, teams and police. While no sport is immune from allegations of sexual abuse, researchers say extremely aggressive sports, such as football, can fuel what they call a culture of rape. Still, some athletes have been falsely accused, and universities are under pressure to improve their methods of distinguishing guilt from innocence. Meanwhile, professional leagues are implementing new policies for dealing with sexual and domestic abuse and are requiring assault-prevention training.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sexual Behavior
Apr. 28, 2017  Sports and Sexual Assault
Oct. 21, 2016  Pornography
Apr. 15, 2016  Decriminalizing Prostitution
Oct. 31, 2014  Campus Sexual Assault
Apr. 27, 2012  Sexual Harassment
Jan. 22, 2010  Sex Scandals
May 23, 2008  Prostitution Debate
Nov. 04, 1994  Sex on Campus
Jun. 11, 1993  Prostitution
Jul. 13, 1984  Sexual Revolution Reconsidered
Aug. 25, 1971  Legalization of Prostitution
Apr. 01, 1970  Sexual Revolution: Myth or Reality
Dec. 30, 1963  Sex on the Campus
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Sports and Recreation
Students and Social Life
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