“The Duties of a Bystander”

Press, Arick, et al

Newsweek, March 28, 1983

pp. 79 - 80

Four men “repeatedly raped a woman in a New Bedford, Massachussetts, Bar, while a crowd of drinkers stood by.” What the crowd did was terribly wrong, but not in the least illegal. “The “criminal law does not recognize sins of omission. People have no duty to rescue strangers.” Joseph Leitner, Brooklyn law school tort specialist: ”A baby slips off a dock into three feet of water. All an adult has to do to save him is get his feet wet. Can he stand there with impunity? Yes. Is he his brother’s keeper? Anglo-Saxon law says no.” France, West Germany, and Soviets all disagree. There’s a “Group Effect” here. People in a crowd are less likely to help.