Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb
|Publisher:||University of California Press|
It was a crime that captured national attention. In the idyllic suburb of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, four of the town’s most popular high school athletes were accused of raping a retarded young woman while nine of their teammates watched. Everyone was riveted by the question: What went wrong in this seemingly flawless American town?
In search of the answer, Bernard Lefkowitz takes the reader behind Glen Ridge’s manicured facade into the shadowy basement that was the scene of the rape, into the mansions on “Millionaire’s Row”, into the All-American high school, and finally into the courtroom where justice itself was on trial.
Lefkowitz’s sweeping narrative, informed by more than 200 interviews and six years of research, recreates a murky adolescent world that parents didn’t—or wouldn’t—see: a high school dominated by a band of predatory athletes; a teenage culture where girls were frequently abused and humiliated at sybaritic and destructive parties, and a town that continued to embrace its celebrity athletes—despite the havoc they created—as “our guys”. But that was not only true of Glen Ridge; Lefkowitz found that the unqualified adulation the athletes received in their town was echoed in communities throughout the nation. Glen Ridge was not an aberration. The clash of cultures and values that divided Glen Ridge, Lefkowitz writes, still divides the country.
Parents, teachers, and anyone concerned with how children are raised, how their characters are formed, how boys and girls learn to treat each other, will want to read this important book.
Leslie, a sweet-natured young woman with the mental age of an 8-year-old, just wanted to be friends with the high school football stars. When they invited her down into the basement rec room of a suburban home, she jumped with joy at being included. The young men raped her—with a baseball bat and a broomstick. In this vividly detailed book, Bernard Lefkowitz brings us into the daily life of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the hometown of Tom Cruise. It’s an affluent white community that values propriety, order, discretion, continuity, and a fantasy of the gentleman-athlete. Lefkowitz writes of the boys who raped Leslie: “’These Glen Ridge kids, they were pure gold, every mother’s dream, every father’s pride. They were not only Glen Ridge’s finest, but in their perfection they belonged to all of us. They were Our Guys.” What’s ultimately most shocking about this crime is how ordinary it was, how predictable—how in one way or another it’s happening now, all across America.