According to newly-released police reports, a 25-year-old woman was brutally raped at Martin Luther King park in march as bystanders watched the rapist punch the woman in the face and drag her into the men's bathroom.
Experts say it's not uncommon for people who witnesses such attacks to turn a blind eye. They call it the bystander effect.
It was just before midnight when the 25-year-old woman cut across Martin Luther King park on her way home. She felt someone grab her right side and then drag her nearly 100 feet toward the men's bathroom. As the man repeatedly punched her in the face, she could see other people watching her being assaulted, but no one came to help.
"During the day yeah, it's safe, but at night who knows." We caught Daniel Rodriguez playing with daughter at the park yesterday. "I think they were just minding their own businesses they didn't want to get involved."
Inside the bathroom the woman continued to fight as she was sexually assaulted, telling police she punched her attacher and used her nails to scrape him several times. So how could a woman be dragged and attacked and no one do anything to stop it?
"It doesn't necessarily surprise me." Carolyn Corbett is a counseling supervisor with the Alliance Against Violence and Sexual Assault. She calls it the bystander effect. "You see other people around then the sole responsible is no longer on you, there's a diffused responsibility and you think everyone who is present has some sort of responsibility. What are they going to do?"
And there's social norms.
"We kind of look around to see what everyone else is doing, and if everyone is doing nothing, we kind of think that's the right thing to do and it's very risky then to go against that," said Corbett.
In a park and neighborhood that has seen it's fair share of crime, there's also the physical risk of getting involved. Still, Carolyn says in this case someone could have simply called 911.
"A lot of times people are too embarrassed - 'What if I'm wrong? What if it is just a lover's quarrel? What if this is normal and they tell me to get lost?' We really have to suppress that thought 'what if I'm wrong?' [and ask ourselves] 'Well, what if I'm right?'"
Police initially arrested the wrong man after he was identified by an anonymous tip and in a photo lineup by the victim. DNA later pointed to another man, 28-year-old Anthony Rodriguez, who is set to be court on the rape and kidnap charges June 1.