Well Being

Court Finds Steubenville Football Players Guilty Of Rape

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Court Finds Steubenville Football Players Guilty Of Rape gavel jpg

This morning, the Steubenville rape trial came to a close. Defendants Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were declared guilty by Judge Thomas Lipps. Despite taking a week, the trial was exhaustive and the emotions of many were riding on this verdict. Considering we are not, by any means, an unbiased website that never voices its opinions, I can honestly, openly say I am extremely glad these two young men were declared guilty.

As anybody familiar with the case already knows, 17-year-old Mays and 16-year-old Richmond are members of Steubenville’s prized Big Red football team, a group of high school males that many say have been given special privileges simply for playing a sport well. The “football hero” culture is what both Steubenville residents and outside sources have said contributes to the idea that these young men are untouchable, allowing them to do whatever they want to whomever they want without fear of reprisal.

The two boys were accused of digitally raping a 16-year-old girl from West Virginia who was very intoxicated at a party last summer. They also took photos of the young woman while she was naked, unconscious and unable to resist, then distributed them via Instagram. She was carried from party to party, and assaulted both en route and at homes. Several tweets were posted discussing the rape victim in cruel, dehumanizing ways and slut-shaming her despite the girl not remotely being able to consent (not that slut-shaming is ever all right, but regardless of a person’s anti-sex morals, I’m not sure how you can ever blame a minor for being assaulted while unconscious).

Additionally, a video of 18-year-old Steubenville graduate Michael Nodianos making fun of the victim was uploaded to YouTube and simply titled, “Dead Girl.” This deeply disturbed the nation given the brash and callous way those involved mocked her, stating that the boys had “raped her dead” and comparing her to Caylee Anthony.

After all evidence, including text messages from Mays begging the victim not to call the police, were presented, the judge declared the boys guilty in juvenile court. The boys will be jailed a minimum of one year, and could be held until the age of 21. Mays will also be sentenced to another year for distribution of nude photos of a minor, and both will have to register as sex offenders. Upon hearing the verdict, the defendants broke down. From AP:

The two broke down in tears after a Juvenile Court judge delivered his verdict. They later apologized to the victim and the community, Richmond struggling to speak through his sobs.

“My life is over,” he said as he collapsed in the arms of his lawyer.

The crime, which took place after a party, shocked many in Steubenville because of the seeming callousness with which other students took out their cellphones to record the attack and gossiped about it online. In fact, the case came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.

“Many of the things we learned during this trial that our children were saying and doing were profane, were ugly,” Judge Thomas Lipps said.

Because of these profane and ugly things that Lipps referred to, and the fact that 16 people refused to talk about the crime, investigators say there could be more arrests for those who didn’t prevent what happened, as well as those who knew but never reported the assault.

While I am glad the trial is over because of the guilty verdict, I am also extremely happy for the victim because now, she not only knows that these two will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, but also, she will not be cross-examined any longer. A trial is a terribly difficult thing to go through for a victim, and considering how public this has been, I can’t even imagine what she’s gone through. But I am happy that it is over, and I am happy that these two will be punished in some way.

Photo: Shutterstock