In the past week, the sentences of the athletes involved in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case have been administered. And in the wake of the sentencing, opinions from multiple sides of the issue have made their voices heard.
Trent Mays, 17, was ordered to serve at least two years in a juvenile facility, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, was ordered to serve at least one year in the facility. Richmond and Mays were both found guilty of digitally penetrating the girl, among other things, without consent, which is considered rape under Ohio law. Mays’ sentence was increased because he was found guilty of distributing pictures of the 16-year-old girl lying naked in a basement.
Social media and text messages led to Mays’ sentencing, showing that he distributed pictures. Those pictures were then circulated on the Internet. YouTube user misternunya, a member of a hacktivist sect of Anonymous, even released a 12-minute video of an intoxicated Mays sometime after the rape, where he was joking about what took place. His comments included the girl being “deader than Obi-Wan Kenobi” and Trayvon Martin.
However, the athletes got slaps on the wrists from some members of the Steubenville community and classmates who were angry with the girl and people who stood up for her. Some CNN reporters even sympathized with the rapists instead of the victim.
According to the Associated Press, two girls were also recently arrested for threatening the victim through social media.
In my opinion, there are many parties at fault for the incident. Of course, the football players did something disgusting and reprehensible, but what about the people that let the drinking get out of hand and witnessed the incident? Why did some simply distribute pictures instead of calling authorities? Where were the witnesses of the event when it was time to testify?
Why didn’t the underage girl have the self-control to stop herself from drinking to the point where she couldn’t remember being taken advantage of? Where were her friends?
Athletes get let off easy all the time, but my point is that you can’t just blame the whole situation on one group of people. Before you get upset, I am not saying that the girl’s decision to drink heavily was the sole cause of the rape, but it certainly made it much easier for the girl to be exploited.
Based on the articles I’ve read, they didn’t drug her. They didn’t hold a gun to her head and tell her to drink. She went to some of the many parties held that night and chose to drink at her own free will. No one bothered to stop her or the others involved. You can’t deny that her actions, in addition to the actions of the other teens, were factors in the incident.
Of course, the girl will be emotionally damaged and scarred by this, but the players will be considered sex offenders for the rest of their lives. So I ask you, once these players are released from their sentences, will they be any better off? Do they deserve to be punished for the rest of their lives because of an idiotic decision they made in their teens?
Many lives have been ruined because of a night of bad mistakes, alcohol, teenage immaturity and serious groupthink. Before you all take sides, I encourage you all to examine the case as thoroughly as possible. This case isn’t as black and white as some make it to be.