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.