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The True Story of Cheryl Araujo’s Sexual Assault

Cheryl Ann Araujo – an American woman from New Bedford, Massachusetts, who was gang-raped by four men in 1983 at age 21 in a tavern in the town whereas other side-walkers reportedly attended but did not interpose. Her case became national news then which drew widespread attention to media coverage of rape cases.

The Araujo case was featured in 2020 as an incident of the Netflix documentary show Trial by Media; the episode “Big Dan’s” traverses the effect that the reporting of the trial had on Cheryl Araujo, the New Bedford community and American society at large.

Over the last some years, Americans have engaged with the new awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual violation and the multiple ways in which survivors who alert authorities or go public with their accounts can be revictimized. But it is not the first time that these high-profile rape claims have reconstructed the nation’s understanding of assault.

Long before the Harvey Weinstein and Brock Turner trials – the trial of Cheryl’s rapists – the first court case of its kind to be televised that turned out to become national news. Now that has been re-examined in Netflix’s true crime anthology Trial By Media.

What Has Happened?

“I was slumped against the window when my bro saw this girl run out of the bar and run up the street. He screamed to us, ‘Naked girl in street, naked girl in street,’” Dan O’Neill told The Herald News in 2009. “I thought to myself – yeah right. But there she was standing in front of the cart like a deer in the headlights.” Some of Cheryl Araujo’s attackers followed her out of the bar but fled after seeing the men who called the police.

Later that month, four men, Daniel Silva, John Cordeiro, and Victor Raposo, Joseph Vieira were charged with assaulting Cheryl Araujo. Two others who were in the bar that evening Virgilio Medeiros (who are not related) & Jose Medeiros were charged with being accessories to the assault. They were accused of helping the rape and preventing the bartender from intruding. The four accused of assaulting Cheryl were convicted at trial in March 1984. Then sentenced to serve between 6 and 12 years in prison. The Medeiros was vindicated.

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