The Kitty Genovese Myth

Whenever I teach Torts, I invariably introduce the discussion of the Good Samaritan duty (or the lack thereof) by mentioning the horrible facts of the Kitty Genovese murder.  You all know the story.  She was stabbed repeatedly one night in New York and many people in nearby apartments who heard her cries for help did nothing.

According to this new book on the case, though, much of what we think we know about this murder is false.  It turns out that some people who heard her cries did call the police.  And nowhere near as many heard the crime in progress as the popular version says.  The press, it seems, ran with the more outrageous narrative and that took hold without any careful fact-checking.  The author went back and looked at the actual police report, interviewing the surviving witnesses, and makes a compelling case.


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