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Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women Hardcover – September 9, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Benedict, former research director, Center for the Study of Sport in Society, offers a controversial documentary chronicling recent cases of women sexually abused and battered by professional and college athletes. Assigned to collect data to refute the growing perception that athletes commit a disproportionate percentage of crimes against women, Benedict instead found evidence that male athletes actually are more likely to commit such crimes. The sudden status accorded an American sports hero, his inflated income, the protection provided by coaches and agents, and the adulation of groupies all help to insulate violent athletes, whom young men often emulate, ironically, as role models. Some high-profile cases, such as the rape of Desiree Washington by Mike Tyson, are discussed. This readable book includes notes and a brief proposal for the prevention of future abuse. For larger public libraries and special collections. (Index not seen.)?Valerie Diamond, Univ. of Maryland Sch. of Law Lib., Baltimore
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A sports sociologist's provocative, sometimes sensationalistic study of a phenomenon that's gaining increasing public attention. Observes Benedict, ``Because of the physical nature of athletics; the aggressive, confrontational, supermacho attitudes surrounding them; and the social approval afforded to celebrity athletes, the sports industry has in effect embraced those men who demonstrated a disdain for women through repeated acts of criminal violence.'' To see the phenomenon of athletes who rape and batter from all angles, Benedict interviewed nearly 300 subjects, including groupies, victims, prosecutors, university administrators, and athletes. His findings reveal many disturbing facts and trends: how the small minority of women who make themselves available to jocks help ``to exacerbate the derogatory attitudes held by athletes''; how peer pressure creates an environment for conduct most individuals would find reprehensible; and how even when they are held accountable for their actions, athletes too often get off with minimal sentences, the matter soon forgotten by the public. More alarming still is how some women are doubly victimized--brutalized and later humiliated, as was the case with one woman who brought suit against members of the Cincinnati Bengals football team. After a court verdict favorable to the players, one of the defendants did a celebratory ``touchdown dance'' for the press. Benedict occasionally strays from his area of expertise, particularly when analyzing the psychology of individuals. However, he is dead-on when describing the group dynamics of athletes and how this camaraderie and shared sense of privilege can lead to trouble. A troubling look at how societies create and then turn a blind eye to a class of citizens who, in the words of one retired player, can't ``tell the difference [between force and consent] anymore.'' -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern; First Edition edition (September 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555533167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555533168
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,804,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Benedict published his first book - Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women - during his first year of law school in 1997. At the time he was interning in the District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit in Boston and planning on becoming a prosecutor. By the time he earned his law degree in 2000, he had published three more books: Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL (Warner Books, 1998); Athletes and Acquaintance Rape (Sage Publications, 1998); and Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino (HarperCollins, 2000). By then he'd decided to be a writer instead of a lawyer.

His books on athletes and crime established him as the national expert on the subject. Plus, he was the lead researcher on two groundbreaking studies conducted at Northeastern University - one on student-athletes and violence against women and one on arrest and conviction rates for athletes. In addition to being a regular analyst on network and cable news programs, Benedict served as an expert witness on behalf of rape and domestic violence victims; consulted for law firms representing victims of violence committed by athletes; and frequently appeared as a keynote speaker for women's groups, victim advocacy organizations and law enforcement conferences.

But his revelatory book on the world's largest Indian casino took him in another direction. Without Reservation questioned the legitimacy of the country's most powerful Indian tribe, prompting calls for a Congressional investigation and contributing to the defeat of a 20-year member of Congress that had helped the tribe obtain federal recognition. Benedict's book became the subject of a 60 Minutes segment and the author went on to run for Congress in the district where the tribe and its casino - Foxwoods - are located. His platform was built on reigning in the casino industry. Talk about controversy! Despite earning the support of the Wall Street Journal, Benedict fell short of capturing the Democratic nomination.

But he didn't mind. He just forged ahead and formed the nation's first statewide non-profit corporation dedicated to stopping casino expansion. As president of The Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion, he partnered with Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and led the lobbying effort to pass landmark legislation outlawing new casinos in Connecticut. In 2004 Benedict testified against Donald Trump and other casino moguls before the House Committee on Government Reform as part a congressional investigation into the undue influence of money and lobbyists on the tribal recognition process.

At the same time, Benedict kept writing. In 2005 he conducted a six-month investigation into the negative social and economic impacts of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods - currently the two largest casinos in the world - and published his findings in a 2-part series in the Hartford Courant: Raw Deal and Losing Hand. He also testified before the Massachusetts legislature and the Philadelphia City Council in opposition to proposals to embrace casino gambling as an economic stimulus. He served as an advisor to municipalities and grassroots organizations throughout the country. The press dubbed him 'Consultant to the Stars' after he was hired to help David Crosby, Bo Derek, Elton John's longtime songwriter Bernie Taupin and others oppose plans to expand the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. He and Crosby also lobbied the U.S. Senate's Indian Affairs Committee.

Benedict has written five other highly acclaimed books on a wide range of topics. His book No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons (HarperCollins, 2003) was the basis of a Discovery Channel documentary and was the subject of ABC News 20/20 segment. On the heels of Kobe Bryant's arrest on rape charges in Colorado, Benedict published Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime (HarperCollins, 2004), which was the basis of a 2-part special on ABC News 20/20 also titled 'Out of Bounds.' During pre-trial proceedings in the Kobe Bryant case, Benedict got access to sealed court documents and medical records that became the basis of three stories he wrote about the case for Sports Illustrated. After Bryant's case was dismissed, Benedict wrote a short series on Bryant for the Los Angeles Times, including an award-winning feature story that revealed why the case against Bryant fell apart.

In 2007 Benedict published The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America (Warner Business Books). It was based on interviews with the CEOs at JetBlue, Madison Square Garden, Dell, and Deloitte & Touche, along with the CFO of American Express and the dean of Harvard Business School. Benedict also wrote and co-produced his first television documentary based on the book. It aired on BYU-TV and on the PBS and CBS affiliates in Utah. He filmed commercials with Glenn Beck to promote the short film. After the release of the book and the film, Benedict teamed up with the executive he had profiled for a series of forums at Yale, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business.

The following year Benedict was commissioned to write a book on a company that Warren Buffett purchased for $200 million. A few years later it was worth over $1 billion. How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy: The RC Willey Story (Shadow Mountain) was released in 2009. Buffett wrote the book's foreword. Also in 2009, Benedict released Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central Publishing). He spent three years chronicling the eminent domain battle in Kelo v. New London, considered the most controversial Supreme Court decision since Roe v. Wade. The book received universal praise: "a fascinating narrative" (New York Times Book Review); "an absorbing read" (Wall Street Journal); and "a mind-blowing story" (NPR's Diane Rehm). Following the book's release, Benedict spent a year traveling the country with plaintiff Susette Kelo, talking to Americans about property rights.

Today Benedict is a regular contributor for and a Distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University, where he teaches a seminar called Writing and Mass Media, along with a course on current affairs. He is a frequent public speaker on athletes and crime, Indian gaming, eminent domain, and leadership and ethics in business. His forthcoming book chronicles the making of the world's #1 foodborne illness lawyer Bill Marler, who rose to prominence while representing children poisoned in America's largest E. coli outbreak. Benedict has begun working on a new book that he's been privately commissioned to write about an Islamic fundamentalist who converts to Christianity and is imprisoned as an infidel.
Jeff Benedict was born in 1966 in New London, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor's in History from Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master's in Political Science from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. He previously practiced law in Connecticut, where he has spent most of his life. He currently lives in Virginia on a Civil War-era farm with his wife and best friend Lydia Benedict and their four children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Justin D. Young on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was writing a report for one of my college writing classes about the recent off the field problems that athletes are having today. I had bought Pros and Cons and found it to be interesting and full of facts and stories. However, when I read this book, I was impressed even more. Benedict does a great job of painting the picture of how violent these knucklehead athletes can be. When the victims descibe their beatings, it sends chills up your spine. If anyone who is looking for a behind the glitter and glamour look of today's professional athlete, than they must buy this book.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is a difference between drawing conclusions from data and the kind of misandry which the NC reader refers to. This book takes a long look at both at both numbers (types of crimes, numbers of felons) and case-study data (individual accounts from the subjects) to support a conclusion that is obvious to all thinking people: violent group behavior is connected to violent individual behavior, especially when groups of men are involved. It is not misandric to develop a hypothesis and then examine whether the data support it or nor; it is, however, irresponsible to make sloppy, defensive, ad hominem attacks on books which scare the hell out of you. This book acts as a mirror to reflect some uncomplimentary facets of male society (and male sports). Readers may not like what they see, but this book (and others by Benedict) prove that you can't just throw names at social problems like these to make them go away. As I am all too well aware, living in the heart of Buckeye country, women pay a terrible price to pay when men's sports (especialy amateur sports) are glorified, and I am thankful when books like Benedict's emerge and help define the extent of such violence nationwide.
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By Ann Harenda on November 18, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book -- even though it's an older book it's very relevant today.
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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D Horn on September 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
Questionable research and even more questionable conclusions. Singling out a single demographic group and making these kinds of generalizations is sickening. What about cops and crimes against women? Construction workers and crimes against women? Shameless and pathetic!
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4 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was very poorly impressed by the apparent sheer misandry that shines through in this work. Negative stereotypes about males in general and athletes in specific are the foundation of this work, which I did not find to be particularly well researched. It was not helpful in the slightest to me. I was terribly disappointed.
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