According to New York state police, at least four allegations of rape at Woodstock ’99 are currently being investigated. The women, who are all from the East coast in and their 20s, were assaulted near the campgrounds and in the mosh pit. Capt. John Wood, an investigator in the assaults, commented that “it’s going to be difficult to pursue this because people have scattered to all parts of the country.”
Several alleged sexual assaults were reported to have taken place in the mosh pit, the crowded area in front of the stage where people dance and thrash into each other. David Schneider, a volunteer at Woodstock, said he saw multiple women pulled into the pit, stripped, assaulted and raped by men. He said, “They were pushed in against their will and really raped. 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 added, “No one I saw tried to go in a rescue them. There clearly wasn’t anything I could do…It was so disturbing.”
The event’s promoters said they believe rape would be impossible under these circumstances. They stated that “You can barely move in a mosh pit;it’s worse than a subway at rush hour.” However, the crisis services director of the YWCA in Mohawk Valley, Rosemary Vennero, argued, “The combination of heat, readily available drugs and alcohol, and the lack of food and sleep was a perfect breeding ground for sexual assault–anything from groping, touching, molesting to rape and sodomy.”
Paul Wertheimer of Crowd Management Strategies agrees with Vennero. He noted that “Sexual assault such as groping is not uncommon in mosh pits. What would not be allowed on public streets is allowed at concerts. I’ve seen trauma that results from when women are attacked and stripped of their clothing. I’ve watched security guards stand by and watch without doing anything to stop it. And I’ve had debates with security people who want too blame the women they think that if a woman goes into a mosh pit and body surfs, that they are somehow inviting that kind of thing.”
Several women who attended Woodstock ’99 have reported sexual assaults. Many victims have undergone various tests in hospitals and received counseling.