Nets Ignore Alleged Rape Inspired by ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Finally, something the nets won’t hype about ‘Fifty Shades.’

You can imagine the media outcry if a gunman attributed an attempted shooting to viewing “American Sniper.” What if “Fifty Shades” was cited in a real-world violent incident? That’s right: crickets. 

Mohammad Hossain, a 19-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student charged with sexual assault of a classmate credited E. L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” as his inspiration. ABC, CBS and NBC, once so eager to talk about all the details of the film adaptation, didn’t mention the story once during their broadcast news shows.

In theaters since Feb. 13, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film adaptation starred Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey, a BDSM-practicing billionaire. Dakota Johnson costarred as Anastasia Steele, a college graduate who serves as his lover. 

The Chicago Tribune broke Hossain’s story Feb. 24 and cited Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Karr’s description of the incident: 

Hossain allegedly asked the woman to remove her clothing and she did, keeping on her bra and underwear, Karr said. He then bound her hands above her head and to a bed with a belt, used another belt to bind her legs and stuffed a necktie into her mouth, Karr said. 

Hossain used a knit cap to cover the woman's eyes, Karr said, and removed the woman's bra and underwear. He then began striking the woman with a belt. After hitting her several times, the woman told Hossain he was hurting her, told him to stop "and began shaking her head and crying," said Karr. 

Hossain continued striking the woman — including with his fists, according to an arrest report — and she managed to get one arm, and then another, free. But he then held her arms behind her back and sexually assaulted her as she continued to plead for him to stop, according to Karr. 

Karr also described how, at the time of his arrest, Hossain admitted “doing something wrong” and allegedly confessed to police he was re-enacting “Fifty Shades of Grey.” 

Hossain’s attorney, Cook County public defender Sandra Bennewitz, defended her client (with a bail set at $500,000) by explaining, “He would say that it was consensual.” 

While the broadcast networks didn’t cover the story, outlets including The Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, TIME and People did. 

The broadcast networks remained silent. NBC, whose sister company produced the film, heavily advertised the film during news shows.

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.