Ohio rape case: While victim suffered, others texted

  • Article by: PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER EDITORIAL
  • Updated: March 25, 2013 - 10:50 AM
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From left, Defense attorney Adam Nemann, his client, defendant Trent Mays, 17, and co-defendant 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond.

Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP

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The story of an Ohio teenager who passed out drunk at a party and was sexually assaulted by two high school football players has captivated America because much of it is familiar.

In urban, suburban and rural settings, the combination of teenage hormones and alcohol, often accompanied by other drugs, too often leads to unwanted sex. That’s rape.

In many cases, a victim with no recollection or evidence of what occurred remains silent — all the while enduring mostly whispered remarks, including the bragging of her assailants, about an incident she cannot remember.

Such violations have happened for years, but in this digital age, the bragging can be more immediate. So it was with the Steubenville, Ohio, case, which ended last week with the rape convictions of the two juveniles.

Trent Mays, 17, the star quarterback for the Steubenville High Big Red, was sentenced to at least a year in detention for rape and another year for distributing nude photos of a minor. Ma’lik Richmond, 16, a wide receiver, received a year for rape. Both could be ordered jailed until the age of 21 if they violate the terms of their probation.

The crime occurred on Aug. 12, during a wild night of parties in which Mays and Richmond repeatedly took advantage of a teen from nearby Weirton, W.Va.

The 16-year-old girl recalls only waking up naked the next day in a basement room of a strange house with Mays, Richmond and another boy.

Prosecutors said they reviewed 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos and 940 video clips. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine plans to convene a grand jury to determine whether to prosecute others who knew about the crime but didn’t report it.

Some teenagers said they didn’t realize they were watching a rape because it didn’t seem violent. Their comments suggest a critical lesson young people need to be taught before they find themselves in a situation where someone unable to speak for herself is treated so horribly.

 

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