September 17, 2020

New ABA book shines a light on enablers of sexual predators

CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2020 — In his new book, “Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayal in Sexual Assaults,” Amos N. Guiora shares the stories of sexual assault survivors from USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, Penn State University, The Ohio State University and the Roman Catholic Church, focusing not on what the sexual predators did to them, but on how the institutions and individuals allowed it to happen.

The book, based on interviews with numerous survivors, thousands of pages of grand jury indictments, civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, special reports and media accounts, poses this critical question: What do sexual assault survivors expect of the enabler-bystander?

The interviews shed light on two powerful responses: that this question had not been previously asked and that survivor expectation of protection and support from the enabler-bystander was rarely, if ever, met.

With emotions ranging from deep disappointment to seething anger and extreme frustration, the survivors speak of profound abandonment by someone who was in a position to assist them in the face of sexual assaults. The perpetrator benefited from the complicity of the enabler, and from the survivors’ perspective, both bear responsibility and must be held accountable.

“Behind every high-profile sexual assault scandal, there’s an army of people whose decisions helped perpetuate the abuse,” Guiora says. “And yet the role of the enabler has been largely undiscussed in the conversation about sexual abuse. As awful as the predator is, he didn’t get access without someone else making it possible or looking the other way.”

Guiora uses the survivors’ perspective to propose legal, cultural and social measures aimed at the enabler. The changes would address and impact both broader society and specific communities including higher education, elite athletics, sports organizations, religious institutions, law enforcement, the entertainment industry and elected officials.

“To whom is a duty owed?” Guiora asks.  “I made a commitment to the survivors to give their voices the widest possible platform,” he says. “Only by hearing their stories can we fully understand the power of the enabler and the pain they cause the survivor. Their voices must propel us to change.”

Amos N. Guiora is professor of law at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. He is actively involved in bystander legislation efforts in Utah and other states around the country. He has published extensively both in the United States and Europe on issues related to national security, limits of interrogation, religion and terrorism, the limits of power, multiculturalism and human rights.

Title: “Armies of Enablers: Survivor Stories of Complicity and Betrayal in Sexual Assaults”
Publisher: ABA Publishing
Pages: 258
Product Code: 1620797
ISBN: 9781641057349
Size: 6 x 9, Paperback and eBook
Price: $24.95
Orders: 800-285-2221 or shopaba.org

Editor’s note: Review copies are available by sending an email to Francine Bennett-Beasley at Francine.Bennett@americanbar.org. If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to Francine Bennett-Beasley, ABA Book Publishing, 321 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654.

What others are saying about “Armies of Enablers”:

“At long last, an unflinching look at those who enable abusers, facilitate their access to children, overlook and hide their crimes, revictimize the abused and, all too often, evade scrutiny and accountability. One hopes this book shifts public attitudes, and that there can be criminal consequences for those who make this scourge possible.”                                  — Walter V. Robinson, editor at large for the Boston Globe and

editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Globe Spotlight Team

“Amos Guiora has captured what happens when good people sit on the sidelines in the face of evil. His timing couldn’t be better. As a critical hour has arrived in America, Professor Guiora presents to the nation and to the world too many examples where silence welds injustice because too few stood up. He answers the hard question of whether law and morality should compel action against the consequences of hatred and shows us why there can never be peace without justice.”

— Avery Friedman, CNN legal analyst

“Essential reading for our times. A deeply moving book of testimonies from survivors of sexual assault and also a brilliant expose of how the predators can only perpetrate their crimes through their individual and institutional enablers, Guiora looks at the legal and moral issues of the enabler through the lens of the survivor. The book is a heart-rending and clear call to action, giving us a concrete legal plan to help achieve the goal: never again.”

—     Emily Mann, director, playwright, screenwriter

“We can’t effectively address the damaging effects of complicity until we have a good understanding of the social and psychological dynamics of bystanders and enablers. Professor Guiora’s timely work gets to the core of the relationship between liberty, social responsibility and lawmaking. Heeding his call for greater proactive behavior from each of us will move our culture to higher levels of safety and productivity.”

—     Rep. Brian S. King, Utah State Legislature

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