Accused, The (1988)




This film centres on the pack rape of 21 year-old Cheryl Araujo in Big Dan’s Tavern in New Bedford, Massachusetts in March 1983. The case achieved national prominence when six accused young men went on trial. What made the case grab the headlines, however, was the fact that only four of the accused were charged with committing rape, the other two being brought to trial for standing idly by applauding and encouraging the act.

The trial attorneys for the defence ferociously cross-examined Araujo, clearly intent on blaming the victim for the predicament she found herself in that night. In the end, however, four men received 9-12 year terms for rape, the two ‘encouragers’ being acquitted. For Cheryl Araujo and her family life in New Bedford became impossible after the trial. Ostracized by many people in the town, she and her family were compelled to move to Miami to start a new life. On 14 December 1986 the vehicle she was driving struck a utility pole and she died in the crash.

About the players:

Kelly McGillis (Kathryn Murphy):

Kelly really wanted the part as District Attorney Murphy in this film because, just six years earlier, she and her flatmate had been assaulted and raped by two men in their apartment. Kelly is probably best remembered for her role as Charlie opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986). In 2009 during an interview, she confirmed long-held rumours that she was a lesbian.

Jodie Foster (Sarah Tobias):

Although she has remained an accomplished actress for decades, culminating in her Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Jodie Foster will always have her niche in history as the (unknowing) driving force behind John Hinckley’s attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in March 1981. His diaries indicated that he had stalked the actress when she was at university, and had decided to kill the president in order to prove to her how much he loved her. Ironically, in December 2007, during an acceptance speech, she finally ‘came out’ and acknowledged her lesbian partner, Cidney Bernard, a woman she met on the set of Sommersby in 1993. In 2008 the relationship ended.

the accused

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