By Terry Kelleher
May 10, 1999 12:00 PM

ABC (Mon., May 10, 9 p.m. ET)

On one level Bernard Lefkowitz’s 1997 book Our Guys is about a particularly cruel, real-life sexual assault—a group of high-school athletes victimizing a mentally retarded 17-year-old girl in a basement in affluent Glen Ridge, N.J. But the author also had wider concerns, asking what the crime and community reaction to it said about suburban values, American jock-worship and the meaning of masculinity. The big social picture is a bit beyond the scope of this TV movie, except for a perfunctory scene in which the prosecutor (Eric Stoltz) mentions the story’s larger themes while munching peanuts at a bar. But the main narrative has enough dramatic power and moral force to hold you firmly from rumor to charge to verdict.

Although Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse) is enormously sympathetic as the victim, the film makes clear that this is a maddeningly irresolute witness, easily swayed by those who falsely promise friendship if she will lie to protect “the boys.” Like the compassionate policewoman (Ally Sheedy) who pursues the case when most of the town would rather sweep it under the basement rug, you won’t be able to rest until the truth comes out.

Bottom Line: Gripping drama