What’s Going On In Steubenville?

Filed in National by on January 7, 2013

I have been following the Steubenville rape story for a while, but I haven’t written about it… until now.  This post won’t be about who should face criminal charges – I don’t know enough to make that call.  But what I do know is vile.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, the NYT has written an extensive piece.

Some in the crowd, which would grow to close to 50 people, arrived with beer. Those who did not were met by cases of it and a makeshift bar of vodka, rum and whiskey, all for the taking, no identification needed. In a matter of no time, many of the partygoers — many of them were high school athletes — were imbibing from red plastic cups inside the home of a volunteer football coach at Steubenville High at what would be the first of several parties that night.

“Huge party!!! Banger!!!!” Trent Mays, a sophomore quarterback on Steubenville’s team, posted on Twitter, referring to one of the bashes that evening.

By sunrise, though, some people in and around Steubenville had gotten word that the night of fun on Aug. 11 might have taken a grim turn, and that members of the Steubenville High football team might have been involved. Twitter posts, videos and photographs circulated by some who attended the nightlong set of parties suggested that an unconscious girl had been sexually assaulted over several hours while others watched. She even might have been urinated on.

In one photograph posted on Instagram by a Steubenville High football player, the girl, who was from across the Ohio River in Weirton, W.Va., is shown looking unresponsive as two boys carry her by her wrists and ankles. Twitter users wrote the words “rape” and “drunk girl” in their posts.

Rumors of a possible crime spread, and people, often with little reliable information, quickly took sides. Some residents and others on social media blamed the girl, saying she put the football team in a bad light and put herself in a position to be violated. Others supported the girl, saying she was a victim of what they believed was a hero-worshiping culture built around football players who think they can do no wrong.

On Aug. 22, the possible crime made local news when the police came forward with details: two standout Steubenville football players — Mays, 16, from Bloomingdale, Ohio, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, from Steubenville — were arrested and later charged with raping a 16-year-old girl and kidnapping her by taking her to several parties while she was too drunk to resist.

That’s a brief synopsis.  But there’s a lot more.  Which brings us to Anonymous (yes, that Anonymous).

Last month, Anonymous sub-group KnightSec vowed to expose the other students and adults affiliated with the Steubenville, Ohio Big Red high school rape case if they didn’t publicly apologize before January 1st. On Wednesday, they released a video of former Steubenville High School baseball player Michael Nodianos recounting the girl’s rape in between giggles. Now, they’ve published a lengthy report on the events that allegedly transpired last August.

The file includes some new and startling allegations: that the alleged rape survivor was roofied, that she was raped by more students than the two who are already charged, and that one member of the “rape crew” used to date her, which is why she was targeted.

I’m always a little hesitant to rely on Anonymous.  I don’t know who they are, but I’m linking to this because the video they posted is horrific.  It doesn’t prove the boys committed a crime, but it pretty much proves that they’re disgusting, vile people.

Here’s an idea of what happened that night.  (Click on the NYT link above for more detail)

Afterward, they headed to the home of one football player who has now become a witness for the prosecution. That player told the police that he was in the back seat of his Volkswagen Jetta with Mays and the girl when Mays proceeded to flash the girl’s breasts and penetrate her with his fingers, while the player videotaped it on his phone. The player, who shared the video with at least one person, testified that he videotaped Mays and the girl “because he was being stupid, not making the right choices.” He said he later deleted the recording.

The girl “was just sitting there, not really doing anything,” the player testified. “She was kind of talking, but I couldn’t make out the words that she was saying.”

At that third party, the girl could not walk on her own and vomited several times before toppling onto her side, several witnesses testified. Mays then tried to coerce the girl into giving him oral sex, but the girl was unresponsive, according to the player who videotaped Mays and the girl.

The player said he did not try to stop it because “at the time, no one really saw it as being forceful.”

At one point, the girl was on the ground, naked, unmoving and silent, according to two witnesses who testified. Mays, they said, had exposed himself while he was right next to her.

Richmond was behind her, with his hands between her legs, penetrating her with his fingers, a witness said.

“I tried to tell Trent to stop it,” another athlete, who was Mays’s best friend, testified. “You know, I told him, ‘Just wait — wait till she wakes up if you’re going to do any of this stuff. Don’t do anything you’re going to regret.’ ”

He said Mays answered: “It’s all right. Don’t worry.”

That boy took a photograph of what Mays and Richmond were doing to the girl. He explained in court how he wanted her to know what had happened to her, but he deleted it from his phone, he testified, after showing it to several people.

First, I’m not sure if the other athlete really told “Trent to stop it” since he ended up photographing the event.  That halo doesn’t seem to fit.  Which brings us to Social Media.

There has been an outcry from the boys’ parents’ lawyers who “assert that the boys have been tried unfairly online, and vow they will be exonerated when all the facts are known.”

Seriously?  This entire case came to light because those involved, and those looking on, put everything online.  It’s a little late to call foul on the internet.

And there is a problem with the Steubenville football team, and it starts with those in charge.  People have claimed that the athletes get away with this sort of behavior.  My personal high school experience tells me that this claim is, in part, true.  But… getting special treatment and being guilty of rape are two different things.  But, provable crime or not, the adults running Steubenville’s Football team shed quite a bit of light on the mentality surrounding the athletes… and it doesn’t look good.

Even without much official public information about the night, some people in town are skeptical of the police account, like Nate Hubbard, a Big Red volunteer coach.

As he stood in the shadow of Harding Stadium, where he once dazzled the crowd with his runs, Hubbard gave voice to some of the popular, if harsh, suspicions.

“The rape was just an excuse, I think,” said the 27-year-old Hubbard, who is No. 2 on the Big Red’s career rushing list.

“What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?” said Hubbard, who is one of the team’s 19 coaches. “She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”

And then there’s the charming coach:

Approached in November to be interviewed about the case, Saccoccia said he did not “do the Internet,” so he had not seen the comments and photographs posted online from that night. When asked again about the players involved and why he chose not to discipline them, he became agitated.

“You made me mad now,” he said, throwing in several expletives as he walked from the high school to his car.

Nearly nose to nose with a reporter, he growled: “You’re going to get yours. And if you don’t get yours, somebody close to you will.”

Shades of Penn State. And I wouldn’t let either of these men near children.  Both these guys have convinced me that Steubenville’s Football team doesn’t play by the same rules.  And there does seem to be a rule among these types:  Protect football above all else.  And it appears that the coaches aren’t the only ones willing to turn a blind eye…

Shawn Crosier, the principal of Steubenville High, and Michael McVey, the superintendent of Steubenville schools, said they entrusted Saccoccia with determining whether any players should be disciplined for what they might have done or saw the night of Aug. 11. Neither Crosier nor McVey spoke to any students about the events of that summer night, they said, because they were satisfied that Saccoccia would handle it.

Nice guy to put your faith in.  Glad you were satisfied.  And this is where I start getting angry.  This sort of attitude from the adults in charge makes me wonder what else has been going on in Steubenville.  And the Police Chief isn’t helping.  Take a look at this quote and then tell me there isn’t a football bias:

“Everybody on those Web sites kept saying stuff that wasn’t true and saying, why wasn’t this person arrested, why aren’t the police doing anything about it,” he said. “Everybody wanted to incriminate more of the football players, some because some of the other schools in the area are simply jealous of Big Red.”

Look, I get that Chief McCafferty doesn’t have a solid case if people won’t come forward, but… Come on!  Jealousy?

And since Nate Hubbard, the Big Red volunteer coach quoted above, started the slut shaming with she’s just lying because she didn’t want to tell her parents about her slutty sluttiness, we’ll let the boys’ lawyer finish it:

Walter Madison, Richmond’s lawyer, said his client was already at a marked disadvantage because so many people discussed the incident online, through blogs and on Twitter.

“It’s an uphill battle because you’ve got social media going on and people formulating opinions, people who weren’t there and don’t know what happened,” he said. “In a small community, it exponentially snowballs out of control. I think the scales are a bit unbalanced.”

He said that online photographs and posts could ultimately be “a gift” for his client’s case because the girl, before that night in August, had posted provocative comments and photographs on her Twitter page over time. He added that those online posts demonstrated that she was sexually active and showed that she was “clearly engaged in at-risk behavior.”

And there you go, ladies and gentlemen… since the girl’s Twitter posts somehow “demonstrated that she was sexually active” Case Closed.  What a gift!  After all, if a women consents to sex with one man, she consents to sex with every man.  May I also point out that while Mr. Madison bemoans the internet, he isn’t above trolling a sixteen year old girl’s Twitter account.

Please notice that I haven’t called for anyone else to be charged with a crime.  I don’t know enough to make that call, but what I do know about Steubenville – in its townspeople’s own words – tells me that there’s a big problem there and while football is a common denominator, it’s not the only one.

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

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  1. Jason330 says:

    Great blogging. That program needs to be completely torn down, and the adults in charge should carry a stigma from this for the rest of their days.

  2. Kate says:

    Disgusting. Thanks for putting all useful information in one place. Now I’m even more pissed off than I was before.

  3. socialistic ben says:

    speaking of US communities that are still ok with rape http://gawker.com/5973081/california-court-says-woman-wasnt-technically-raped-because-she-isnt-married

    Shaming is a very powerful weapon. Look what it did to smoking. Smoking became “gross” and “unattractive” in the public eye and now less Americans smoke. We need to shame these communities.
    Point out constantly that Stubenville Ohio cares more about their teenage meat-heads having fun at a party than the safety of their daughters. They must, or else this wouldn’t be a controversy. The little pricks would be in jail already. What’s that? you are from Stubenville and are offended that I called your whole town pro-date rape? Oh well, so sad, change your damn town.
    We need to shame California into changing their laws so rapists get punished. ( I imagine with their republican-free state government, it will happen quickly)

  4. pandora says:

    This NSFW photo says it all. Powerful and true.

  5. Another Mike says:

    I have been following this case very closely since reading the NYT story last month. What you have posted is a great synopsis of what has happened so far. One thing I learned this weekend is that Trent Mays’ lawyer has told CNN that he will introduce a text message from the girl to Mays the day after the attack that says something like “I know you did not rape me” as evidence and that any sex was consensual. This girl will be on trial.

    The video released by Anonymous is 12 minutes of vile, disgusting filth about how dead the girl was that night and how badly she was raped. It is hard to watch.

    There is a rumor that Reno Saccoccia, the Steubenville coach, will resign as early as today. Last week, I emailed the superintendent, principal and athletic director calling for his firing. A real leader would have told his team that the young lady who was attacked deserved better than a conspiracy of silence and that the Big Red would not take the field until people stepped forward. A real man would not have threatened a reporter, Mafia-style.

    The conflicts between the school, police, prosecutor and alleged perpetrators are too complex to detail here. The whole thing stinks. But there are a lot of resources out there for those who want to learn more.

  6. pandora says:

    I just read about that text, Mike, but reports claim that the girl didn’t even realize what had happened to her until after she sent that text. These kids even sent one of the disgusting pictures of the girl to her father!

    This group of kids strike me as very comfortable with their behavior… it makes me wonder if this sort of thing was the norm for Steubenville athletes, since they flooded social media and made endless references to rape.

    Shut down the football program. Adults associated with it aren’t fit to run anything.

  7. puck says:

    Why aren’t the Feds involved (if they aren’t already)?

    One problem with this case: there is no physical evidence of any rape, nor any victim accusation of rape. At most there is evidence of underage drinking (and possibly kidnapping, although it would be an unusual application of the charge). The recordings of the discussion of rape could be interpreted as “boastful” talk rather than technical descriptions of what was done.

    But the underage drinking alone should be enough to shut down the football program and kick out the adults and a whole bunch of kids.

  8. pandora says:

    Looks like the star of that vile video is no longer at Ohio State. No word on whether he left on his own.


  9. pandora says:

    From what I’ve read on this, Puck… the reason there’s no evidence is because she didn’t know what happened. She had already taken a shower.

    I’ve been pretty clear that I’m not wading into who should face criminal charges, but it sure sounds like there were adults present during the drinking.

  10. puck says:

    My point is not who should face charges, but in establishing the truth of what happened, and figuring out how severe should the repercussions to the football program and players be, since it is not clear how severe the crime was. Carrying an unconscious girl around to several parties is horrible enough, but magnitudes less vile than multiple rapes. Remember the Duke lacrosse case. A false accusation of rape is a horrible thing too.

  11. Another Mike says:

    Kidnapping charges against both youths have been dropped, and their cases were moved from adult to juvenile court. Juvenile court means sealed records, closed court and a non-jury trial.

  12. kavips says:

    What is interesting is the ironic timing that while this was taking place over the summer and fall, you had Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Todd Akin, Rupert Mourdock, all but supportive of the taking of vulnerable girls at will by men….. as being “Natural Law”… The same “Natural Law” that they use to justify the prohibition of single sex marriage.

  13. pandora says:

    You know, the reason this came to light was due to those involved spreading it all over social media. And while I haven’t pasted a guilty sticker on anyone, those kids have a lot of explaining to do. They have no one to blame but themselves and their tweets and their instagrams and their YouTube video.

    Whether they can prove rape, or not, wasn’t my point – I thought I was pretty clear on that.

    Truthfully, it’s kind of irritating that whenever these sorts of things happen – no matter how careful I am in not rendering a verdict – I get comments about the Duke lacrosse team… like that’s the norm. It’s NOT.

  14. anon says:

    I’m concerned that we’re going back to a society that asks, “What was she wearing to provoke the rape,” blames women for being out at night or pins the blame for the rape on the victim because she’s had sex before.

    In India, an Indian “guru” is blaming the gang rape and death of a 23 year old medical student on her because she wasn’t “friendly” enough to her attackers.

    The time is now to stop women from sliding back into the dark ages when it comes to the horrific crime of rape. It won’t be an easy task considering the growing number of ignorant evangelicals who think that only virgins can be “legitimately” raped.

  15. socialistic ben says:

    what do you mean “going back to”? far as I can tell, the pathetic and embarrassing view we, as a society, have about rape is pretty advanced in comparison to anything in the past… and I am in NO way saying it’s good today. It is just better than it has been. we should all be ashamed.
    This problem only really goes one way. I know it is possible for women to rape men, I know an erection doesnt = consent. I know sodomy is rape.. I know all of that. But if men were as vulnerable to women as women are to men, I betcha our whole view would be different.

  16. cassandra_m says:

    I’m concerned that we’re going back to a society that asks, “What was she wearing to provoke the rape,” blames women for being out at night or pins the blame for the rape on the victim because she’s had sex before.

    Putting the victim on trial and/or making her responsible for rape does need to end. And I wonder where the fathers of daughters are here? It would be incredibly helpful to hear more of their voices in this kind of thing.

    Amanda Marcotte had a piece some days back worrying that what Anonymous is doing might jeopardize any legal proceeding. That may be true, but I don’t have much faith in law enforcement here. It might be justice for these kids to have this data survive on the internet for the duration of whatever careers they might have where employers will do a background check.

  17. anon says:

    The Sheriff announced yesterday, in front of a large protest, that there would be no more arrests.


    cass, maybe you lack faith because so many of the people in the town, the prosecutor, the sheriff, etc. have close ties to the football team.

  18. kavips says:

    Time to change the name to Stupidville….

  19. pandora says:

    Check out this chart. Heartbreaking.

  20. puck says:

    I don’t get the chart. What is an “unreported” rapist, and how do we know how many there are?

  21. V says:

    from the org that made the chart:

    For those of you who have asked, here is the background on the stats we used:

    Some reports suggest that only 5-25% of rapes are reported to authorities. Other suggest that close to half are reported. We assumed 10%, which is dramatic, but possible.
    Of the rapes that are reported, approximately 9 are prosecuted.
    Of the prosecuted, 5 result in felony convictions. This is across the board for all felony prosecutions, not just rape.
    Assuming that 2% of reported rapes are false and a 10% reporting rate, the graphic assumes that 2 of 1000 rapes are falsely reported (assuming a rape can’t be falsely reported unless it’s reported in the first place)

  22. puck says:

    We assumed 10%, which is dramatic, but possible.

    Yup, that’s sad all right.

  23. Roland D. LeBay says:

    I have no problem believing the 25% stat re: unreported rapes/sexual assaults. I know far too many women who have been abused/raped/assaulted.

    And I totally agree w/ everything SB said above.