Born Innocent was a television movie which was first aired under the NBC World Premiere Movie umbrella on September 10, 1974. Highly publicized and controversial, Born Innocent was the highest-rated television movie to air in the United States in 1974. The movie dealt with the physical, psychological and sexual abuse of a teenage girl, and included graphic content never before seen on American television at that time.
The movie starred Linda Blair (fresh off her success with The Exorcist) as a teenage runaway, who was eventually sentenced to do time in a juvenile detention center, which doubled as a reform school for the girls. Blair's character, Christine Parker, came from an abusive home. Her father (played by Richard Jaeckel) beat her, which caused Chris to run away many times. Her mother (Kim Hunter) was unfeeling, sitting in her recliner, watching television and smoking cigarettes all day. While the movie has a morality play tone, showing the harsh effects of the detention center on a young girl, it also blames society for Christine's downfall, as her social worker does not find out that her parents caused her to run away, and then had her sent off to reform school when she told others.
One scene in particular that gained the movie infamy was the rape of Blair's character in the communal showers by a girl gang led by lesbian Denny (Janit Baldwin) with a toilet brush handle; this scene had the distinction of being the first all-female rape scene aired on American television. This scene was not glossed over in promotional spots for the movie; Linda Blair's screams as she was being attacked were aired in the promos, with the announcer intoning, "She was born innocent, but that was fourteen years ago!"
The scene drew much outcry on its first airing and was eventually pulled from the movie entirely when it was blamed for the rape of a nine-year-old girl, committed by some of her peers with a glass soda pop bottle. The California Supreme Court would declare the film was not obscene, and that the network which broadcast it was not liable for the actions of the persons who committed the crime.