Woodstock 99: Three days of peace, love and rape

Rape accounts emerge in wake of music festival.

Published July 29, 1999 7:00PM (EDT)

The Washington Post reports that police say at least four rapes occurred at Woodstock 99, held in upstate New York last weekend. The Post story includes one disturbing eyewitness report of a body-surfing woman pulled down into the crowd and gang-raped during Limp Bizkit's set.

"There clearly wasn't anything I could do," the Post reported counselor David Schneider as saying. "They're big brawny people and it seemed like most of the crowd around them were cheering them on ... It was so disturbing. You're thinking, if this girl was being raped, wouldn't all these people try to stop what was going on?"

Police confirmed four rape reports, but say that it might be difficult to prosecute offenders, given the dispersal of the crowd. The stories say others at the site reported "many more." Said the Associated Press: "Crisis intervention workers said they witnessed many more sexual assaults, some taking place in the mosh pit."

Another woman said she was raped -- apparently by more than one person -- in a wooded area; police said her inebriation made it difficult to get a clear story, however.

AP reports that festival organizers will turn over camera footage of the crowd to police. The three-day concert was already marred by a riot that occurred in the early morning hours Monday. Bands of concert-goers tipped over cars, looted and burned concession and souvenir trailers and destroyed ATM machines. Five were reported hurt, seven arrested.

By Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman is the former arts editor of Salon and National Public Radio.

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