Four women say they were victims
Police investigate alleged rapes at Woodstock '99
July 29, 1999
ROME, New York (CNN) -- Authorities are investigating four alleged incidents of rape at last weekend's Woodstock '99 music festival.
"Three were in the campground area," says Capt. John Wood of the New York State police. "Another was in front of the stage while Limp Bizkit was playing."
Wood says all the alleged victims are women in their 20s. He says they're from Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and none says she knows her attacker.
Wood says the woman from Pittsburgh had been "body surfing" -- hoisted into the air and passed around above the crowd -- and fell into the mosh pit. That's the crowded area in front of a stage, a space in which the most active fans like to stand, dance and thrash into each other. The woman told police two men fondled her and a third raped her there. Wood says she apparently "body surfed" out of the crowd to escape.
"Due to the congestion of the crowd," a state police investigation report states, "she felt that if she yelled for help or fought, she feared she was going to be beaten."
Wood says the Ohio woman reported her alleged incident immediately to state police, telling them she'd been assaulted in the campground. But she was so intoxicated that she couldn't recall how many men were involved, he says.
Wood says that rape kits, including DNA evidence from the alleged attackers, have been collected from some of the victims. But he says finding suspects and witnesses may be difficult because the crowd of more than 200,000 has left the area.
Searching for video evidence
Organizers of the concert say they're cooperating with police and will provide videotape of the concerts to authorities. The performances were all taped for viewing on pay-per-view cable.
Wood confirms that the Woodstock organizers are cooperating. He says if there's a tape that shows the incident at the Limp Bizkit concert, "I'll get it."
Crisis intervention workers say they witnessed many more sexual assaults, some taking place in the mosh pit. The Washington Post quotes a rehabilitation counselor from Jessup, Maryland -- who was working as a volunteer at Woodstock -- saying he saw women being pulled into the pit and having their clothes removed and being assaulted and raped by men in the crowd.
"They were pushed in against their will and really raped," David Schneider told the Post. "From my vantage point, it looked like initially there was a struggle, and after that there were other people holding them down. It seemed like most of the crowd around was cheering them on."
Schneider tells the Post that deep crowding kept security guards or others from intervening in the assaults.
Calls to festival spokeswoman Hayley Sumner seeking comment have not immediately been returned.
Sandy Lattimore, emergency services director of the Rome office of the American Red Cross, says she treated multiple victims of sexual assaults at Woodstock, incidents she says took place in the mosh pit.
Rosemary Vennero, crisis service director of the YWCA of Mohawk Valley, says her rape crisis center counseled four people who said they were victims.
Police say they're still investigating a riot that broke out at the end of the Woodstock '99 series of concerts. Some one-dozen trailers, a small bus and a number of booths and portable toilets were burned in the fray. Five people were injured and seven were arrested.
Seven arrested in connection with Woodstock '99 fracas
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