The Accused

The Accused Information

The Accused is a 1988 American drama film starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tom Topor.

Loosely based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo that occurred at Big Dan's Bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on March 6, 1983, this film was one of the first Hollywood films to deal with rape in a direct manner, and led to other films (including TV films and shows) on the subject.

Jodie Foster, for her portrayal as Sarah Tobias, earned the Academy Award for Best Actress, the film's sole nomination. The Accused also became the first film to win the Best Actress Academy Award without being nominated in any other category since The Three Faces of Eve in 1957, when Joanne Woodward won Best Actress, the film's sole nomination.


One night in a bar, a working-class woman, Sarah Tobias (Foster), is gang raped by several drunk bar patrons, while drunken onlookers cheer them on. The district attorney, Kathryn Murphy (McGillis), who is assigned to the rape case wants to drop the case. After a heated argument, she is admonished by her superior to enter a plea bargain with the rapists requiring some jail time. Sarah is enraged by the deal, mostly because she did not get to tell her story in court.

When Sarah is hospitalized after ramming her car into a pickup truck, whose driver (one of the witnesses who had encouraged the rapists) crudely propositions her, Kathryn decides to prosecute the men who cheered the rape for criminal solicitation. Sarah's friend Sally (Ann Hearn), a waitress at the bar where the rape took place, picks three men out of a line-up, and they get three different attorneys for the ensuing trial. Sarah testifies that she was raped, while college student Kenneth Joyce (Bernie Coulson), a friend of one of the rapists, testifies to watching the rape prior to making a 911 call. After Kathryn's closing statement and a single summation from the three defense lawyers, the jury deliberates for a long time, asking several times for Ken's testimony to be reread to them. In the end, they find the three men guilty. As the trial provides testimony that they raped Sarah, the three men serving prison time for reckless endangerment are now unlikely to be granted early parole.


  • Kelly McGillis as A. D. A. Kathryn Murphy
  • Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias
  • Bernie Coulson as Ken Joyce
  • Leo Rossi as Cliff "Scorpion" Albrect
  • Ann Hearn as Sally Fraser
  • Carmen Argenziano as D. A. Paul Rudolph
  • Steve Antin as Bob Joiner
  • Tom O'Brien as Larry
  • Peter Van Norden as Attorney Paulsen
  • Terry David Mulligan as Lieutenant Duncan
  • Woody Brown as Danny
  • Scott Paulin as Attorney Ben Wainwright
  • Kim Kondrashoff as Kurt


McGillis herself was a rape victim in real life. In 1982, she was assaulted and raped in her home by the escaped rapist Leroy Johnson. This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her role of A. D. A. Murphy in this film. Johnson was sentenced for other crimes to 50 years in prison in 2010.


  • "I'm Talking Love" by Vanessa Anderson
  • "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters
  • "Kiss of Fire" by James Harman
  • "Love to the Limit" by Only Child
  • "Love in Return" by Gina Schock
  • "Middle of Nowhere" Gina Schock and Vance DeGeneres
  • "Walk in My Sleep" by House of Schock
  • "Mojo Boogie" by Johnny Winter


The film grossed a total of $32,078,318. The film was a critical success, garnering a 95% fresh rating in review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Of the two criminal prosecutions in the film, Roger Ebert finds that the lesson of the trial "may be the most important message this movie has to offer...that verbal sexual harassment, whether crudely in a saloon back room or subtly in an everyday situation, is a form of violence - one that leaves no visible marks but can make its victims feel unable to move freely and casually in society. It is a form of imprisonment."

Marjorie Heins, in the 1998 book The V-Chip Debate: Content Filtering from Television to the Internet, stated that educators worried that the film would "receive V ratings and be subject to at least a presumption against curricular use in many public schools."

The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.

See also

  • Aestheticization of violence, an article which includes a discussion of Kaplan's use of a violent rape scene in The Accused
  • List of films based on actual events

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Accused_%281988_film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



Page generated in 0.28958892822266 seconds