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


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

One night at a bar, working-class woman Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) is gang raped by several drunk bar patrons, while onlookers cheer them on. Assistant district attorney Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) (who is assigned to the rape case) wants to drop it.

After a heated argument, her superior suggests she arrange a plea bargain with the rape defendants that requires some jail time. They make a plea bargain to charges of reckless endangerment and are sentenced to prison. Sarah is enraged by the deal as she did not get to testify in court against her attackers.

Sarah is hospitalized after she rammed a pickup truck, recognizing its driver as one of the witnesses from the bar and being outraged by his crude proposition of her. After this, 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 as those who encouraged the attackers. They get three different defense attorneys for the ensuing trial. Sarah testifies that she was raped.

College student Kenneth Joyce (Bernie Coulson), a friend of one of the rapists, testifies to watching the rape before he made a 9-1-1 call to notify police.After Kathryn's closing statement and a single summation from the three defense lawyers, the jury deliberates for a long time. They ask several times for Ken's testimony to be reread to them.

In the end, the jury convicts the three defendants. As the trial provides testimony and evidence that the men raped Sarah, the three men already serving prison time for reckless endangerment are unlikely to be granted early parole and will likely have to register as sex offenders for many years afterwards.


  • Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias
  • Kelly McGillis as Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Murphy
  • Bernie Coulson as Kenneth Joyce
  • Leo Rossi as Cliff "Scorpion" Albrect
  • Ann Hearn as Sally Fraser
  • Carmen Argenziano as District Attorney 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


The movie was filmed from January 6th to February 14, 1988 and the production dates took place from November 30, 1987 to August 21, 1988. It was filmed in Delta and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The movie is based on a real-life gang rape at a bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts in March of 1983.

Kelly McGillis (who survived a violent sexual assault in 1982) was originally offered the role of Sarah Tobias, but she turned down the role & fought for the role of Kathryn Murphy instead.

To prepare for the role of Sarah Tobias, Jodie Foster attended meetings of rape support groups and read stories of sexual assault experiences.

Various actresses such as Cybil Shepherd, Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Beals, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alyssa Milano, Meg Ryan & Kelly Preston were either considered or auditioned for the role of Sarah Tobias.

The movie was scheduled to be released in April of 1988, but due to the WGA strike of 1988, it was pushed back to October.

Box OfficeEdit

"The Accused" topped the box office, grossing $4,316,369 during its opening weekend. Domestically, it made $32,078,318.

Critical ReceptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie was given a 95% approval rating based on 19 reviews.

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars and found 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".

Rita Kempley from the Washington Post said the movie "draws provocative but forced parallels between violent crime and America's notion of fun and games".


1989 Academy Awards

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jodie Foster (won)

1989 Golden Globes Awards

  • Best Performance by an Actress in A Motion Picture- Drama: Jodie Foster (won)

1990 BAFTA Awards

  • Best Actress: Jodie Foster (nominated)

1989 Berlin International Film Festival

  • Golden Berlin Bear: Jonathan Kaplan (nominated)

1989 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Actress: Jodie Foster (nominated)

1989 David di Donatello Awards

  • Best Foreign Actress (Migliore Attrice Straniera): Jodie Foster (won)

1988 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Actress: Jodie Foster (won)

1988 National Board of Review, USA

  • Best Actress: Jodie Foster (won)
  • Top Ten Films (won)

1988 New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Actress: Jodie Foster (2nd place)

1989 Political Film Society, USA

  • Human Rights (nominated)

Theatrical TrailerEdit

The Accused (1988) Trailer

The Accused (1988) Trailer

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