Sex Crimes in Sports: An America Tonight special report

by April 10, 2015 5:00PM ET

America Tonight explores important issues at the intersection of sports and sexual assault

Sexual Violence

Athletes are often admired for their training, dedication and discipline. On some campuses, the top players are superstars. But there’s a dark side to the world of sports, with a culture that can encourage violently macho behavior and then insulate athletes from accusations involving and even convictions of sexual assault. Rarely a year goes by on any level of sports — youth, high school, college and professional — without a community, school or league that's affected by sexual assault cases involving athletes.

Male student-athletes make up just 3 percent of the male college population but commit almost 1 in 5 sexual assaults on campuses, according to data compiled by researchers Jeff Benedict and Todd Crosset almost 20 years ago, and that remains the only study done on sexual assault in college athletics. Since then, public awareness around sexual assault in athletics has grown more intense, with almost 60 percent of Americans believing college athletes are treated differently when they are accused of sexual assault, according to a recent HBO Real Sports/Marist poll. 

With the national conversation on sexual assault in sports reaching new heights, America Tonight presents a special broadcast and digital series examining different layers of the issue.

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