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Justice, Social Media And The Rape Case In Steubenville

Social media, outrage, justice and the Steubenville rape case.

From left, Defense attorney Adam Nemann, his client, defendant Trent Mays, 17, and defendant 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond are seen as they await a new witness during Mays and Richmond's trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP)

From left, Defense attorney Adam Nemann, his client, defendant Trent Mays, 17, and defendant 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond are seen as they await a new witness during Mays and Richmond’s trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP)

This weekend, guilty verdicts in the Stuebenville rape case. The little Ohio river town that has become a national symbol of all that can go wrong on a bad night of booze and teens and social media.

Two star hometown athletes who may have felt untouchable. A drunken girl who was touched too much.

Raped, says the court. And a jungle of texts and Instagram photos – social media – that first callously recorded a nightmare night, then angrily rallied for criminal charges.

This hour, On Point: found guilty in Stuebenville.

-Tom Ashbrook


Rachel Dissell, reporter covering juvenile justice for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. (@racheldissell)

Juliet Macur, sports reporter for the New York Times. She and her colleague Nate Schweber wrote a December 2012 piece in the New York Times which brought national attention to the Steubenville case. (@julietmacur)

Mary Anne Franks, professor of law at the University of Miami.

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press “Two Ohio high school football players have been found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that roiled a small city and stirred reaction from activists online. The trial of two Ohio high school football players accused of raping a 16-year-old girl resumed on Saturday. NBC’s Ron Allen reports. Judge Thomas Lipps ruled Sunday in juvenile court that Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond are guilty of attacking the girl after an alcohol-fueled party last August.”

The Plain Dealer “Two witnesses in  the Steubenville rape trial today  testified at the Jefferson County Justice Center about what they remember from the night of Aug. 11 and early morning of Aug. 12. Two Steubenville High School Big Red football players, one 16 and another who just turned 17, are charged with raping a 16-year-old girl who lives across the river in West Virginia.”

USA Today “One text message the prosecution introduced Thursday read was attributed to the alleged victim: ‘I wasn’t being a slut. They were taking advantage of me.’ Prosecutors said the girl was texting a friend who authorities say saw what happened, the AP reports.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/EMRFHB Harrison King

    Their attorney looks stressed…
    They look guilty.

  • http://twitter.com/ETalicia talicia

    That’s a shame.  Too bad they didn’t go for the jury trial. I certainly wouldn’t have convicted them.  They’ll spend five years incarcerated, and she’ll be drunk and rolling on the floor at another party in about six months.  They should have used the “I was drunk and don’t remember excuse”.  Women get passes for their “faculties” being impaired, but men don’t. Such a double standard. I’m in my late twenties and I’ve never been in a situation where I was blacked out in a room full of drunk men.  The conversation doesn’t need about the war on women, it needs to be about women taking responsibility for themselves.  Women need to stop playing the rape card.  

    • Tyranipocrit

       That’s BS.  Drunk in a dark room does not give boys or men the right to gang rape.  Period.  Your attitude i disgusting.  These cowardly pitiful violent anti-human boys should be in jail forever.  The men should have protected the youg girl, took her home, even if she was drunkenly flirtatious.  i was teenage once too–we are all in these situations over and over again–but good people dont do what they did.  Good people look out for people.  As most of us do.

      With your reasoning-or unreasoning–all crimes are justifiable because well, there was money in th ecash register–so its gonna taken.  There was oil in iraq–so well, lets kill em all, let god sort em out.  Just because a man can lie doesnt mean he should.  Just because wall street enables bankers to defraud the americna people doesnt mean they shoudl or that they should go unpunished but they do because people like you say oh well, its freedom of capitalism and its all in the past–boys will be boys, right.

      Rape is rape.  Vilence is violence.  We live in a society of laws and humans with rights–are you saying this girl does not have rights–to dignity, to person and body–freedom from violence and rape?  Are you saying because she is flirtatious or wears a bathing suit or gets drunk rape or gang rape or assault is justified?  Those boys, especially as upstanding citizins of their community–had a duty and an obligation to protect her–not destroy her.  They are monsters.  We are make mistakes, we all put ourselves in situations we shouldnt, from time to time–some of get lucky, others fall into the hands of monsters.  I have restrained myself many a time with drunk women, taken them from the hands of would be attackers (even friends), protected them, walked them home, drove them home, refused sex when i could have taken full advantage.  These pathetic boys had a choice and they chose to be monsters.  They must pay for it now.  All choices have consequences.  To free them, is to day rape is perfectly acceptable.  Go forth and gang rape to your hearts content–ye women, ye villainous women, you better shut up and like it.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        By your argument, any man who has had sexual relations with a woman drinking alcohol has committed rape. If so, then it should be illegal for women to drink alcohol.

        • BHA_in_Vermont

           Big jump from “drinking alcohol” which can be a glass of wine with dinner and blind unconscious drunk.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Exactly. Tyranipocrit was ignoring that distinction.

          • Tyranipocrit

            I didnt ignore anything, you are making outlandish extreme assumptions.  Why are you arguing how many drinks justifies rape?  The girl was blind drunk passed out drunk and gang raped–and you defend it and diminish to a glass of wine–how romantic!  How perverted!  How sick!  Not very conscious at all.  

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            I didn’t mention a glass of wine. We were commenting on your refusing sex from a woman who was fully conscious, but had been drinking. That has nothing to do with this case.

        • Tyranipocrit

          No, that was not my argument.  Your consciousness is not very expanded.  

      • tinawina

        I agree. Rape is rape. And these two boys — not all boys, not everyone at the party, not boys in Ohio or the midwest — these particular, specific, two boys decided to commit this crime. I don’t care if that girl was cracked out, coked out, smoking opium, shooting heroin, drunk, and beat her own self over the head — SHE WAS RAPED. How much longer do we have to live with Americans not getting it through their skulls that rape is rape regardless of where we are, who we’re with, what we’re wearing, how we sashay across a bar floor, or what relationship we have to the guy who is the rapist? If I do not actively give you consent to have sex with me — and that applies to my not being able to give my consent because I’m unconscious for whatever reason — your next move better not be sexual or you are committing a crime called rape. 

        As for the coaches or coach who had a party and spoon fed all the kids vodka — throw him under the jail, and then throw the key far far away.  

    • 1Brett1

      The difference being that the girl’s consequence should have been getting grounded by her parents for six months. The boys got a year in one case and two in the other, in a youth detention center, which is not unreasonable. I don’t think the boys should have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, but other than that they are lucky not to have been tried as adults and not to have been sent to an adult prison for 5-10 years. What all of these children did was stupid; what the boys did was criminal.

      • Tyranipocrit

         I think they should be registered as sexual monsters the rest of thier lives–these are dangerous people.  This is not normal behavior–or shouldnt be.

    • Fed_Up18

       Statistics & facts show you to be stupid at best, & proof positive that the war on women has succeeded.

  • Tyranipocrit

    @Talicia.  You suggest that all men are monsters and that they should not be punished for being men (monsters) because that is what they are.  That offends me.   I feel sorry for you because you think that all men are monsters.  I pity you.  She might be a slut but that doesnt mean she deserves gang rape.  Why is it okay for men to be sluts but not women?  Why is it okay for men to rape?  

  • Stacy21629

    These “boys” are guilty.  I’m glad the judge found them so.  They should spend a significant amount of time behind bars and pay financial restitution to this girl.  What they did was horrendous.  HOWEVER, in nearly every discussion I’ve seen of this case the completely stupid and irresponsible actions of the girl are swept under the rug.  Her drunkenness does NOT mean she “deserved” it, but no one wants to address the fact that if she had not been there that night, if she had not been drinking, this would not have occurred.  She put herself in a very dangerous and compromising situation.  We NEED to be discussing this with our daughters – they CAN’T go out in miniskirts and drink themselves smashed and think they’re going to be 100% safe.  Sure they SHOULD be, but that’s not the world we live in.  I don’t leave my purse on the seat in an unlocked car because I don’t want it stolen – the thief would still be wrong, but I put myself in a situation where it was easier for someone to take advantage of me.  Talking about these things does not mean “blaming the victim” but we are completely ignorant and putting our daughters at risk to not discuss the stupid choices that this girl made that put her in a very bad situation.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Thought provoking comments Stacy.  16 and drunk to the point of being unconscious… where were her parents?  Above all this story is sad reflection on what kind of country we’re in danger of becoming.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        Let’s not pretend that teenage over-drinking was invented this year.

        • BHA_in_Vermont

           Nope, but it is time to get serious about it. Enough with “kids will be kids”

      • Stacy21629

         Indeed.  And she obviously was out all night.  If my 16 year old daughter was gone all night I’d be out in the streets searching for her because she would have had a definite curfew to be home by.

        • Tyranipocrit

           were you never a teenager–it goes like this: Bob says, Mom, Im staying at Jack’s.  Jack says, Mom, Im staying at Bob’s.  Both parents in the dark dont realize bob and jack are staying out all night.  I know girls do the same thing.

          Or parents safely in bed, kids sneak out window. 

          Parents cant be everywhere all the time.  Talk to them.  Prepare them.  but let them be kids.

          Not all children have attentive parents or wise parents or educated parents–some have abusive parents.  It takes a village.  When things like this happen, the monsters should be punished seveerly and publicly shamed. 

      • Stacy21629

         And, by the way, where is the girl’s father in all this?

        • LinRP

           Maybe never in the picture? Maybe dead? You sure are doing a lot of finger pointing.

          • Stacy21629

             I am.  Because without doing so we will never learn from these events.  Children born/raised in single parent households, and especially those with single mothers, are more likely to grow up in poverty, more likely to be single mothers themselves, less likely to finish high school, more likely to engage in “risky” behaviors and on and on.  Ignoring the fact that this girl’s father does not appear to have been in the picture is ignoring all of this.  We have to acknowledge that the decisions we make have very real consequences and make our children aware of them.

            The fact that this girl’s father apparently is nowhere to be found does not mean that was the “cause” of her rape or place blame in any one place or another, but it does/did influence many aspects of her life.

      • LinRP

        This comment and all of you who responded and concurred about the behavior of the girl and her parents…are ANY of you parents? And if you are and lived through the teenage years, have none of your children ever done anything incredibly, stupid or risky? Did you at that age? Maybe to this degree of drunkenness, or maybe not. But I bet you can cite many a fine line where situations could have easily spiraled from bad to disastrous. 

        As for where her parents are? Maybe she had permission to have a sleep over at a friend’s house? Her parents may have believed she was safe, and did not expect her home.

        All of you who are making value judgements should take a moment to realize that you are making assumptions based on zero fact. That’s what wrong with our society in many ways. Stop it and stop blaming.

        • Stacy21629

           I am actually.  My son is only 3 but I am not so far out of high school and college years.  I absolutely can look back on situations I put myself in and think “Thank GOD I didn’t get raped.”  I was drunk and alone with a guy I didn’t know all that well.  Thank GOD it didn’t go farther than that, but I was S-T-U-P-I-D to be in that situation in the first place.   I want to make sure my child(ren) is/are aware that decisions you make have consequences – be careful and don’t put yourself in a dangerous spot like that.  I was very fortunate.  Others certainly aren’t.

          Again, to sweep that sort of information under the rug in this situation is blind and ignorant.  I am not blaming the girl or her parents – rape is 100% unacceptable, but we cannot ignore that many bad decisions were made that night.

        • NrthOfTheBorder

          Sorry, but I chose to look at this from afar without being privy to the specifics. Nor did I consider the what if’s or maybe’s you propose. 

          But it’s high time we begin to confront the rising incidence of, and connections between,  binge drinking & rape of all kinds.

          Unfortunately, young women are taking the brunt of this abuse.  And for this abuse we all pay a price – and are all, directly or indirectly, responsible. 

          To parents of teenage kids anywhere I’d say not assume anything casually. Somebody’s kids are doing this – especially boys – and the sooner we begin to call attention to what’s happening (or very well could happen)  the better.

    • Fed_Up18

       If I hear one more morn talk about miniskirts, I’m going to throw up! What is it about men that makes you think they are completely unable to control themselves at all?

  • 1Brett1

    This seems a story where arrogance intersects with ignorance, where children take on behaviors they think of as adult but fail to recognize any context or responsibility, or consequence until it was too late.

    • Jasoturner

      I like the “arrogance intersecting with ignorance” comment, but I think there is a moral component to this story that ignorance doesn’t explain or excuse.

      Status seems to often cause people to begin objectifying those not in the same social strata.  It is really a moral question for our era, not just these kids.

      • 1Brett1

        I agree, and morality is something taught not inherent. Children tend to be amoral; they then learn morality or immorality. Class distinction did perhaps play a role in that these athletes were treated as being above certain parameters of what is acceptable because of their “status.”

  • William

    They are getting off light.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    A sad and tragic case of young lives ruined.  Also, it spotlights yet another example of societal decay.

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      You nailed it in terms of another example of societal decay.  Of course, it doesn’t excuse the males involved from taking advantage of the situation.  But where was the guidance from the parents of both the girl and these guys? Don’t just throw the book at them.  Use the entire library!

      • 1Brett1

        Is giving them juvenile detention for the short terms they got, throwing the book at them? That said, I don’t think the boys should have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives either. 

    • 1Brett1

      At what point in history (when you consider there wasn’t “societal decay”) did this not occur? While I will agree that teens are perhaps given too many signals of approved permissiveness and crassness in today’s society, I don’t think the reactionary sentiment of, “times were better back in my day…” is much help in fixing a problem.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        I’m not a prude.  I’m just making an observation that is consistent with my first hand observations of perhaps a tipping point.  btw – I don’t have any solutions to the ‘problem’.

  • Jim

    i saw that photo. it is quite disturbing. not knowing the entire story. but if they are found guilty of rape, they should serve time and treat as adults.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      No. Adults should be treated and tried as adults. The lust in America to treat minors as adults is disgusting.

      • creaker

         If the girl had ended up pregnant, she would have been expected to accept that as an adult.

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          No, she would have been a pregnant minor.

          • creaker

            And that would make being pregnant and having to make life choices somehow different?

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            And that would make a minor a minor, and an adult an adult. It is not that difficult of a concept.

          • ToyYoda

            Stop thinking categorically. Creaker is saying that she (if pregnant) must now forced to act as a responsible adult even though she’s a minor.

            If we go by your reasoning, she should still be a pregnant “minor” and as a minor she should go on living an care-free party lifestyle that is typical of the teen years.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            If a sixteen-year-old minor is pregnant, then it would be hoped that a sixteen-year-old minor would care for her infant, with the help of adults. Becoming pregnant and caring for an infant, does not make a minor an adult, no more than dressing up a 12-year-old in a business suit makes them an adult business man.

      • ToyYoda

        Agreed, but some how turning 18 makes us adults?

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          Turning 18 makes us adults under the law. It shouldn’t be a flexible definition. If people want stiffer penalties for minors, then argue for that, but don’t label minors, adults.

  • http://twitter.com/kikinola kiki

    I’m interesting in hearing all of the judge’s remarks. In the one soundbite from him that played on the even news, he was admonishing parents to teach their children not to record everything they do and post it online. I’m curious whether he also told parents to teach their children that it’s wrong to rape and humiliate other people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    Let’s not forget that this tragedy is really just beginning to unfold for the young girl, too. There is no “putting it behind you” for any of these kids, especially in this socially complicated digital era.  

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Stuebenville or “Stupidville”?

    They got off light. If you have to hold a girl down to have sex with her, IT IS RAPE not “consensual”. I have ZERO sympathy for those boys.

    I hope the 16 witnesses that won’t talk to the cops and didn’t stop the rape are brought to trial ASAP.

    I also hope states, cities and towns everywhere start slapping underage drinkers HARD. No more “call Mom and Dad and have them pick you up”. Spend the night in the can then 500 hours of community service done at times when you would likely be out drinking.

    Don’t want to spend your Friday and Saturday nights “volunteering” in the ER? Don’t drink.

    One case where “Anonymous” had a positive impact.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       The attorney for the victim claims that “Anonymous” caused the girl additional and unnecessary pain.

  • Arthur_game

    what is the specific evidence against these two convicted individuals?

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Does the High School these boys played for have a “No substance abuse” policy for their athletes? A lot do.

    If they didn’t before, they darn well better implement one ASAP and hold the kids to it. One drink, out for the season. It is THEIR CHOICE.

  • creaker

    One thing that gets overlooked by the media (intentionally?) – one of the reasons this happened is because it happens a lot – if there wasn’t such a trail of evidence left behind, this would have likely been another one of those endless incidents that the parents or law enforcement never hear about.

    They act like there’s this one isolated incident – it isn’t.

  • Melanie Wilson

    What about the role that alcohol is playing in all of this? Where were the adults? And what about the role of internet porn, which is what most teen boys are growing up on?

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      The adults were buying the alcohol for the kids, or selling it to them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

         Following in the train of thought in this, where were the parents? If these young men were morally correct in their upbringing, this situation would not have happened. Same for the bystanders in the rape. Who took the pictures?

      • 1Brett1

        There were a whole spate of “before-the-new-school-year-parties” going on in that town, and coaches (if not many parents) knew that shenanigans were going on. It is a small town, and in a way the whole town has some re-evaluating to do in terms of what is important: the coddling of local star athletes? Or instilling some virtues in their young people?

  • MarkVII88

    I think the saddest part about this whole case is that, in the absence of social media, these football players would have probably gotten away with it.  If they took polaroids instead of emailing photos and texting with their phones about it, the overwhelming evidence against them could have been easily destroyed or hidden.  Given the lack of desire in their own town to castigate these offenders, I am glad there was overwhelming digital evidence to convict these individuals.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/OH7YTOPBQEQXO5PU2JSKS2R27Q Andy of the North

      There are so many things wrapped up in all of this, but preferential treatment of athletes and the reverence shown for power football (or other sports) programs by the community at large (Penn State, anyone?) certainly plays a part.  

      You’re right – without all the evidence…AND national attention, nothing would’ve happened to the perpetrators, I’m sure. 

      My high school had a mediocre football team, but our “star” athletes were treated differently and could get away with much more than anyone else.

  • mbmcq

    Why scratching your heads about the degree of rape?  It’s not about the perpetrators, so what part of their body was used is irrelevant.  

    • Expanded_Consciousness


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    For the caller “Julius”: These boys are labeled “sex offenders” because they ARE. How can anyone question that?

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    How many years is the assistant coach going to spend in jail for hosting an under age drinking party in his home?  Should be life.

  • creaker

    If this happened in inner city, poor areas, there would be no conversation over how sad it is these young men are having their lives ruined by being called to to task for their actions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1057713152 Wendy Gwozdz Blackman

    I’m curious about what is happening with the assistant coach who provided alchohol to underaged people.  This might never have happened otherwise.

  • OnpointListener

    This is anecdotal, but I have been told by several parents that it is a COMMON PRACTICE for young men to spike women’s drinks with a drug that causes the victim to pass out after a short time so she can then be raped.  There is actually a verb named after the drug that defines the act in shorthand.

    • Fed_Up18

       It’s not anecdotal; there is reason to believe that’s *exactly* what happened because of the total blackout, & inability to wake up during the rape, this girl had.

  • Steve_the_Repoman

    Where I am listening to WBUR…

    a fund raising plea connected the dopamine released by the brain during sex with giving to public radio after which the WBUR announcers snickered…

    Was anyone else jarred?

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Disgusting juxtaposition with the program’s topic. WBUR didn’t think it would be in poor taste to joke about sex during a program about rape.

  • J__o__h__n

    WBUR, I understand the need to ask for money but running stupid segments telling me why I like NPR instead of the programs that I tune into hear is not a good way to make me want to donate.  I’d rather have fundraising requests now and June as long as programming is not cut.  If you sell enough roses in Feb, can we skip the sale in May? 

  • Jason Vicente

    Who provided this underaged girl with alcohol?  Don’t they share in the blame?

  • lexpublius

    I agree with the attorney guest, the coach and other teachers who knew and failed to report the felonies should be indicted. The assistant coach who knew and also provided liquor to juveniles should be indicted. As far as the laughter by the teens involved, you forgot to question how soon after the rapes they were laughing, because IF they were still under the influence then their inhibitions were suppressed. Did they continue laughing well after 24 hours?

  • http://www.facebook.com/peterboyle.4848 Peter Boyle

    I would argue the point of ‘Social Decay’.  I’m over 60 and things like that happened in my high school days (except for the pictures and online activity).  And why is alcohol an excuse for the girl (she was drunk and could not give consent) but not for the boys (they were drunk and not able to discern).  Also being labeled for life as a “Sex Offender” is very likely to haunt them for the rest of their lives, no chance to move on from it.  I also notice that the ‘usual suspects’ are prominent crying that the poor girl is so innocent and these terrible boys took advantage of her.   She demanded that she go with them, fighting off her friend who tried to stop her.  Life is full of hard things that happen to you, and you can’t take every injustice to court. 

    • olennyboy

      think about what you just wrote…is there ever pure innocence and pure culpability?  if there were your son, if this were your daughter arguement does hold here…

      • http://www.facebook.com/peterboyle.4848 Peter Boyle

         That is the point…there is no innocence to be had here.  The asst. coach held the party, now people want him prosecuted.  The girl was drunk and stupid but walks away with only a bad reputation (maybe).  The boys are the ones going to jail, and labeled forever as sex offenders.  What is wrong with our culture when something like this can be blown so far out of proportion by some people.  Things like this happened in my day, sometimes worse for boys than girls in real damage, and will happen 100 years from now.  As nice as we like to assume we are, we are biologic and genetic animals and no amount of ‘civilization’ has ever been able to wipe that out.  Young people are more prone to ‘trying’ things, and ‘experiencing’ things;  and certainly more consumed with ‘belonging’ ‘fitting in’ and peer pressure than adults.  The ‘value’ we place on athletes is part of the problem, as being BMOC is still important to many. 

        • Fed_Up18

           Her being drunk in no way forced them to do anything to her. If you got drunk & passed out (never mind drugged), & woke to find your wallet missing, are you saying you would never file a police report, & never want those who took your money to be named thieves? What makes your money more precious than a young girl’s body?

    • 1Brett1

      There is a bit of a difference in being passed out from alcohol (the point at which she was assaulted) and having one’s judgement impaired by alcohol (the state of the boys’ minds throughout the entire evening); there is a difference with distinction there. 

      While I don’t think these boys should have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, I also don’t think being in juvenile detention for slightly less than a year (or slightly less than two years in the one boy’s case) is a heavy punishment for this crime. For the girls part, her parents should probably ground her for a year…Yes, both the boys and girl behaved in a dangerously stupid manner; the girl (aside from underage drinking) didn’t commit a crime, though.

    • Fed_Up18

       She “demanded” to go when she was drunk; she was *drugged* and raped by these boys for revenge. Google “Cody Saltsman” &* get educated.

  • nycXpat

    What was done to this girl is stomach-turningly-horrid. Something IS broken in our society.

    There is a meaningful distinction between an unwanted pat on the ass and Steubenville and Mumbai.

    it not just about the perpetrator. We also do a disservice to the victim of a Mumbai to lump her or him in with someone who was groped.

    We need to be better about talking, thinking about what actually happened in these cases.

  • John Drinane

    I have watched the video of the boys joking about this terrible incident. I recall one lone voice trying to speak up for this poor girl. “What if she was your sister” he asked and was met with drunk crassness. How do people in face of this gang mentality that exists on athletic teams and in fraternities (just examples  actually stand up for what is right. In the past speaking out against the team would be social suicide and exile but with everything on the social media maybe people in right can have the courage to stand up if they think the web mob is behind them.

  • Bobbie_Wickham

    This case highlights how terrible our society is about discussing rape. The image of a stranger jumping out of a dark alley and violently assaulting a woman is far from common. Most rapes are committed by acquaintances, people the victims trust on at least a basic level. You wouldn’t think your cousin’s roommate would rob you, or your boyfriend’s poker buddy would be willing to stab you, or a friend from high school would kill you, because you KNOW them, or your friends/family know them. Educating women how to avoid “Stranger Danger” misses the target, because strangers aren’t the real danger when it comes to most assaults.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peterboyle.4848 Peter Boyle

    To your female guest who asked why there is a different ‘burden’ on women….well biology is one reason, and genetics is another.

    • Fed_Up18

       So you’re saying that men are genetically morally inferior, & unable to refrain from *crimes*, just because they are men? Sorry, I can’t go along with your obvious self-hatred: I think men are equal human beings with women, & can control themselves just as much as women can.

  • olennyboy

    a question of sisterhood, woman solidarity: how many girls were made aware via social media/tweets etc and what did they do?  this is deplorable for all including the parents of these kids.

  • Rae Borecky

    i accept the fact that i need to take certain precautions to protect my self in social situations as a young woman, however the overall message being sent to young people needs to shift from “how not to get raped” to “Don’t rape”. this change needs to happen on collage and high school campuses especially. 

    • J__o__h__n

      Both are needed. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sydney.lunn.5 Sydney Lunn

    As a sophomore, I remember at our house’s first-year student orientation at Smith College, we performed a rather silly skit about being safe when attending parties on and off campus. Though light hearted, it made the point that there is safety in numbers, especially if there might be alcohol or other intoxicating substances available- a sort of party “buddy system”.  I remember this as being empowering as a group, and encouraging us to use our wits,  and, thankfully, not overemphasizing fear or victimization.

    There is a danger in group-think in respect to how a violent situation can get out of control, and this is one element of how the peer pressure of an athletic team could make the likelihood of this sort of event more prevalent. However, my experience at Smith was a thankful and lifelong lesson learned in the power in numbers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doctsc Tanya Shriver Castiglione

    The male caller who raised concerns about the Steubenville boys was roundly trashed by all, but I believe he was misrepresented. These are young people.  I heard for the first time on your program that the party, which included drinking, occurred at a coach’s house!  Where is justice for the adults who promoted this behavior?  Here in CT adults who provide alcohol for minors are prosecuted!
    I remember being 16 and, although a pretty independent thinker, I was terrifically affected by my wishes to be included and peer culture.  I wanted the approval of authority figures I respected and revered.  In my case that was English teachers, but give me a minute here.  What if in debate prep (and remember, the entire town has built a stadium for 10,000 spectators for our annual debates) I was encouraged  by the group to do something wrong, like plagiarize?  I’m not positing equivalence.  And the guy who called in clearly stated he thought the boys’ actions were reprehensible.  But isn’t a big question here Where Were the ADULTS? 
    You stayed pretty superficial on this incident.  Can we all agree it was wrong?  Yes. 

    • 1Brett1

      Being that it was a small town, and being that there were a whole slew of parties to celebrate the upcoming school year, it is difficult to believe that adults weren’t aware of how potentially dangerous the childrens’ behaviors were. It is especially difficult to believe that the coaches didn’t have some knowledge, considering one of the assistant coaches hosted the party where alcohol was served. The town needs to do some soul searching in my view about its priorities.

    • Fed_Up18

       Absolutely the adults who encouraged & condoned this crime should be held accountable. ABSOLUTELY.

  • 1Brett1

    The theme of “moral decay” has been invoked here in some comments as an underlying cause. I think this is too dismissive of these boys’ behaviors. Being awareness what it is these days, any 16/17 year old boy should realize, especially with all of the very public rape cases in the past decade, that engaging in any sexual activity with a girl who is passed out drunk, including (but not limited to) dragging the girl’s limp body around, stripping her naked, penetrating her either with a finger, an object, or a penis, slapping one’s penis on her nude body, ejaculating on her nude body, etc., is wrong, and may very well result in criminal charges (that is if the moral implications of these behaviors didn’t make the boys’ better selves kick in).

    I feel that it was a sense of entitlement that led them to go through with what they knew was wrong on some level. They were hometown heroes; their coaches either encouraged them (by providing alcohol at parties the coaches hosted) and their sense of entitlement through direct permissiveness, or the adults around these boys gave them a pass by looking the other way and not stressing what is unacceptable behavior, and so on…It is my belief that the boys did not realize just how serious their actions were, not because they didn’t realize the ramifications/seriousness of their behaviors but because they figured they could get away with it, that it wasn’t that bad because they were supported in their community. 

  • Expanded_Consciousness


  • http://twitter.com/dumdeedumdummy nibblets

    (Reuters) – A South
    African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis this week has told the
    BBC pedophilia is an illness and not a crime.When the moral authorities justify rape is it any wonder what 16 year old drunken hormone enraged boys will do?It must be these boys are sick, and the girl whom they molested is a symptom of their illness.  You know what they say about the Pope where there is smoke……fire it right in there with the magic white.http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/16/us-safrica-cardinal-idUSBRE92F09A20130316

    • http://www.facebook.com/peterboyle.4848 Peter Boyle

       For over 70 years we dealt with drug addiction as a crime, and look where we are.  In general pedophilia is a mental aberration, and until there is physical contact that is where it should remain.  Our seeming jihad on any form of sex except that which is currently socially approved is getting out of hand.  Like the ‘child abuse’ debacles we went through in the 80′s where we learned that children actually do lie, maybe it is about time we started laying some legal blame on the female side. 

      In  teen years a lot of hormones are raging in both sexes.  Add alcohol or drugs and the provocative way some females dress at that age and you have an explosive mix.  TO be labeled for life as a sex offender when there was no sex seems a bit like the taliban beheading blasphemers (what future do you think they will have with that permanent label).  The girl fought off people who tried to stop her going with the boys, and they had been drinking too so they were not thinking clearly either.  A lot of things could have happened that are far worse than what did happen.  Time is jail is called for but permanent labeling as a sex offender is a bit over the line.

      From what I have heard about this it is not much different than what happened when I was in HS over 50 years ago.  No matter what laws you pass you will never stop genetics, biology and youth particularly when mixed with a party atmosphere and alcohol.  Perhaps instead of “Just Say No” we need to teach moderation and self control and critical thinking.

      • Fed_Up18

         How about we get some gay man to slap his penis against your thigh, masturbate onto your stomach & then stick his fingers up your anus, & see how long you agree that nothing sexual was done to you, & that no one should be labelled a sex offender for doing it to you, once you were too drugged to know what was really going on…?

  • Kyle

    I think there was a little too much glorifying of the girl.  While this case shows the boys clearly at fault, she is also partially at fault.  Drinking until losing control is stupid, leaving with those boys was stupid.  On a general point, I know in some, if not most states, intoxication makes a contract invalid, so a fully conscious, fully consensual, partially intoxicated bad decision can end up with the girl being considered “raped”.  This used to terrify me in college if I was out with a girl and neither one of us was really drunk, but we had been drinking, it would be considered rape if we had consensual relations.

    • http://twitter.com/erinsingalong erinsingalong

       Kyle, your mindset frightens me. Truth be told, we aren’t sure if this girl was just intoxicated or if she was drugged. There’s no proof either way, but just because she was wasted does not give some guy the right to put his hands up her skirt and sexually violate her. Did you watch the videos of them laughing and talking about it? Did you see the photos? This wasn’t just a case of two people getting drunk on a date. This is a case of a young girl being horribly violated while people instagram and tweeted about it.

      I do think this case highlights our societies view on rape though. It’s always the victim’s fault somehow in the case of rape, isn’t it? She shouldn’t have been there. That girl should have dressed different. Why wasn’t she more aware? A woman’s vagina is never really her own is it, especially if there is opportunity involved?

      We shouldn’t be berating this young girl. We should be asking ourselves as a society what we are teaching our boys and young men.

      Come on!

      • Kyle

        I was addressing two different points here, probably should have been more clear.  When I said the boys are clearly at fault, I really meant that, they went way beyond the gray area.  I do not, however, consider the girl beyond fault (unless she was actually drugged) for getting as drunk as she did, and attacking her friends when they tried to prevent her from stupidly going with these boys.
        I then went on an admittedly less relevant point about my understanding of rape laws and where they apply in situations where I do not think it appropriate.  I was now discussing situations where fully conscious intoxicated girls make bad decisions with fully conscious intoxicated boys and the boys are considered at fault from a rape standpoint.  While that clearly did not apply here, I brought it up since we are on the topic of rape.

      • Kyle

        I do want to make sure that I make it very very clear though that I think the boys are extremely guilty in this case and can think of no reason to justify doing these thing to an unconscious or barely conscious girl

      • Stacy21629

         She was NOT drugged – drug tests were performed and were negative.

    • http://twitter.com/cksieloff Courtney Sieloff

       This is just victim blaming. The result of drinking too much should be a hangover, not rape. This attitude appalls me.

      • Kyle

        I’m not saying she was asking for it or deserved it or saying the boys were justified, but I am saying she behaved incredibly irresponsibly.  I don’t want her being made out as a hero when she clearly was not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001708537001 Joshua Evans

    Why would any juvenile be tried as an adult? Juveniles are juveniles  adults are adults.

  • cc9388

    I dont excuse the defendants behavior for a minute , but what was she doing there ? that intoxicated , that helpless or was she woder if interviews or a book deal is in the works , please people dont be so gullible

    • Fed_Up18

       You are excusing the defendants if you think that she was in any way to blame. She was lured there & drugged for revenge. Google “Cody Saltsman” & educate yourself.

  • Expanded_Consciousness


    • Fed_Up18

       Context & perspective: the context was *deliberately lured* to that party & *drugged*, that there were far more than ‘three minors involved”, & the perspective is that trying to minimize what was done shows that you are part of the problem.

  • Fed_Up18

    This was not “all that can go wrong on a bad night of booze and teens and social media.” She was *deliberately lured* to that party & *drugged*. What is even sadder is that I am certain that all those in this thread seeking to downplay the incident & blame the girl are going to ignore those facts, too.

  • buddhaclown

    When I heard about this case I immediately thought of the boys in my high school who, according to rumor, had committed the same offense (raping a girl after she was too drunk to know what was going on). That was over 20 years ago and then, too, it was the jocks. This kind of thing has been going on for a long long time, the only difference in this case was they didn’t get away with it because of social media. So I agree with the view that it isn’t a case of social media culture causing this kind of behavior, but rather of exposing it.

  • LilyMann

    The actions of this party, this school, communtity, & the possibility of it being overlooked is most definately a sign of whats to come. How do children grow up thinking, and feeling that what they did is funny? Or ok? Lucky for those coward boys that theyre in a place where they could maybe heal from what they did to another human being. Drunk or not, female or not. Why? Thats how they party? Hope everyone involved gets what they need to know better, to feel what they did as something that She never deserved. For the rest of their lives. She never should have had that happen to her. Sick.

  • http://twitter.com/cksieloff Courtney Sieloff

    This discussion is depressing me. I expected more from NPR. This girl is the victim, and that needs to be kept clear throughout this conversation. Mr. Ashbrook, you seem to want to hear the most gory details, which is just unseemly. Also, please STOP worrying about the future of these young criminals. Rape is a crime. Being a victim of a crime should not be. 

    • Alex Goldstein

       “This girl is the victim, and that needs to be kept clear throughout this conversation.”

      Courtney, at what point was that not clear? I never heard Tom or the guests suggest that she wasn’t the victim and the boys the perpetrators. Just because people are rightly criticizing news channels like CNN for focusing on sympathy for the boys here doesn’t mean you can tar On Point with the same accusation without actually using real evidence to back it up.

      “Mr. Ashbrook, you seem to want to hear the most gory details, which is just unseemly.”

      How dare they bring up details of a case that the show is dedicated to talking about! Wait, what?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Pete.Roe Peter Roe

    TOM ASHBROOK!! Why the focus on ‘social media’?? It’s made the proliferation of images easier, but it hasn’t affected the psyche of the youth, this stuff has been happening forever, and you should stop trying to shoe-horn the conversation around ‘social media’ and talk about the absolute tragedy that was inflicted on this poor girl! 

    Also, note that CNN’s reportage was sympathetic to the boys and how their lives had been ruined, failing to think of the life of the girl and how it may affect her.

    Why does Tom Ashbrook sound so damn naive and amazed by the world today??

  • carmen -MO-lina

    Interesting (?) Fact: the only people on this forum who’ve questioned the severity of the punishment for this crime, are male. 

  • Red_ant

    The essential matter here — even beyond the laws that were broken — is how these two human beings treated another human being, especially one who was in a vulnerable state. The utter disregard for someone’s wellbeing is overwhelmingly evident on the part of many other people as well as the two whose names we know from the trial and this is something they will all have to live with for a long, long time.  The adults are to blame for promoting - or at least not countering – very harmful and dangerous attitudes among those who have not yet grown enough to have or exercise good judgment and who are so callow as to have no empathy for fellow humans. What kind of person believes humiliation of someone is worthy behavior?  Has it been acceptable in this town or school or team or group?

    Without social media the mistreatment of and crime against this young woman may have remained another instance of those with power protecting the favored few. Tom Ashbrook, are you really so out of touch that you don’t know assaults on girls and women are so common and so often endured in silence? It’s not just Steubenville and not just 2013.  Some may want to believe that this trial and what was uncovered in the investigation will lead to rethinking of values and behaviors but since the trial we already know of two people sending threats to the victim.  Attitudes about sexual violence seem to have developed so little since my sister was raped and murdered when we were in college four decades ago.

  • Provensen

    Thank you to Red_ant for the comment below. I agree. I am a great fan of the program, and think Tom Ashbrook is one of the most talented– and informed– hosts around. But from the introduction, to the seeming incredulity, to the misguided questions, to the tone that seemed to imply there was room for debate as to the nature of this crime… I found Tom Ashbrook’s handling of this program deplorable. As the comments below amply evidence, the desire to blame rape victims and to look for ways to excuse the perpetrators is still alive and well (never mind if a person is 16, unconscious, and there is overwhelming evidence to demonstrate the brutal nature of the crime). This program did little to offer needed clarity. Social media or no, the fact remains that rape always has been, and continues to be, pervasive. From our high schools to our college campuses to our military barracks to our homes– 1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault. It is all of our responsibility to change the culture that allows those statistics. I hope that in the future this program will contribute to that effort, by handling the topic of sexual violence with the same sensitivity and awareness that bring me to the show each day.

  • Chris Williams

    These guys clearly deserve what they have coming to them and I have very little sympathy for them.   

    However, Juliet’s answer to Tom’s question about whether girls are getting closer to risky situation due to increased alcohol was ridiculous.  To put this girl’s evident level of alcohol consumption/abuse to on the same continuum as women entering the work force or leaving the house as risk hightening activities, as Juiliet does, is nonsense. She compares 2 rational activities that enable one to more fully participate in society around them with one that total undermines a persons rationality and self-control. 

    One’s level of comatose drunkenness does not make rape any less of a crime, but not to directly voice any concern that girl’s are putting themselves in harm’s way with their behavior is beyond niaive.  She actually said “boys drink this much and they’re not getting raped.”  No kidding!  They are much bigger, stronger, and (in my view) aggressive.  Getting laid is exactly the point of getting girls drunk since time immemorial! 

    Juliet told a very necessary story and these nasty twerps need to do some time, but on this particular point, she is doing no favors for women or anyone.     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9617617 Carin Ferdowsian

    I identify with previous posters on this thread that Tom seemed a bit naive and maybe even concerned with the wrong details, but I’ve thought this before and ultimately wonder if it’s not just Tom attempting to consider his entire audience. Perhaps he knows that people come to this conversation completely naive and being human, we require the gory details to pique our interest, unfortunately.  I am a passionate feminist and activist and I’ve found that by approaching conversation diplomatically, with equal opportunity to participate for all, ego is removed from the conversation and understanding and empathy are more easily accessed.  The first male caller felt free enough to call in and express what I thought was a guileless perspective. But he (as anyone would be) will be less likely to understand victim blaming and the culture of misogyny that the guests spoke of if he feels attacked. The conversation isn’t about him. It’s about why his perspective is so pervasive. It’s about why we require the gory details rather than a conversation about consent and respect.
    Thanks Tom, I appreciated this episode as well as the one covering the New Delhi rape because you invited educated guests for both episodes, all willing to draw attention to the problem as systemic and the need to address misogyny as everyone’s problem.

  • 228929292AABBB

    I think Tom’s desire to explore the nuances and get behind the hysteria of this is very important and a great job.  The reporters speaking on the show demonstrated a terrible lack of objectivity and had clearly passed judgment on a plethora of issues then used their position as journalists not to inform but to spread their personal judgment.  They are clearly still mad about how popular the athletes in their own high schools were.  Tom sensitively and compassionately addressed the issues and the reaction to him on this comments section shows why it’s so important that someone is willing to do so.

    • Provensen

      What exactly does this mean? And what, in the end, is meant below by ‘diplomacy’? I agree that the salient issues here are those concerning our culture at large– including why the perspective of blaming the victim remains so pervasive (at all levels, including in the media.) An On Point program that addressed this question directly might be in order. Certainly there is value in discussing this subject in a way that helps people broaden their perspectives, rather than alienating those who might otherwise be brought into the conversation. That said, ‘diplomacy’ should not come at the expense of clarity, and respect for victims should come first of all. I don’t think playing the devil’s advocate is appropriate when it comes to raising the question of blame, and there’s simply no excuse for sensationalized and dismissive sentences like, “…a drunken girl who was touched too much.” Such language would never have been used in discussing the Delhi rape case; why is it considered appropriate here? There is an urgent need for an incisive conversation about rape right here in this country, and while, as I said, I admire Tom Ashbrook and On Point immensely, I still do not feel the tone of this program furthered that conversation.

      • 228929292AABBB

        I never heard anyone play the devil’s advocate, but I did hear the usual knee-jerk fallacy of denial on the show, wherein ‘progressives’ attempt to view the world as if it were a better place than it is, and as if humans were more noble than they are and therefore more should be expected of them.  Football is a gladiator’s sport, gladiators are used up by society for entertainment, and take their compensation in the form of base pleasures.  We’ve come a very short way in thousands of years, and I agree with efforts toward more progress, but in the meantime it makes sense to be realistic about certain things, such as dangerous behaviors young women and all people should avoid.  As little as anyone wants to hear it, it’s impressive (in a sad sort of way) that these boys didn’t commit a more significant sexual crime against this girl, and the truth is they deserve a certain small amount of credit for that.  They probably actually felt self conscious about the restraint they did show, due to the warped value system of young people in the social and hormonal morass of the teenage years, and an attempt to seem more aggressive probably generated some of the cavalier misogony in their communications.  The truth is power is usually abused and that abuse often, though not always, takes the form of sex.  Priests are not necessarily pedophiles or homosexual, they are abusing the power they have in the manner available.  Go to any legislative office, where the officials are old unattractive men and the staff are attractive young women dressed provocatively, to see what both genders often contribute to this dynamic.  Ironically, it’s the same sort of abuse of power exercised by the guests from the New York Times.  These young men, former abusers of their position in society, had become weak.  The reporters now had power over them, and abused it (by reporting their prejudices and judgment as if it were national news and creating publicity which mandated legal action) in order to take advantage of the weak position of the young men.  Their claim to be defenders of the young woman is spurious, anyone listening to the show can hear their hatred and close-mindedness, and see how they used the power of a national paper to leverage it.  There are very few heroes in this whole story.

        • Provensen

          Yes, a teenage girl had the audacity to break up with a boyfriend who was a member of the football team. Everyone knows that when you do that, you can expect him to orchestrate a revenge that involves 6 hours of gang rape and public humiliation. The boys involved were certainly just expressing embarrassment at their own self-restraint when they said, in videos of the attack on the unconscious girl, “She is so raped!” That’s just the way people are– anyone with any form of power will become a sexual predator, and women who abuse their positions as journalists to report on it are being man haters. Not to mention the hysterical women who might feel anger at this crime and the culture that surrounds it. You make an excellent point. This form of convoluted misogyny demonstrates exactly the need to talk about these cases in a different way.

          • 228929292AABBB

            I have never could have made my point as well as you have made it for me, thank you.

  • Alice Louise Gilmore

    I am 25, and I can verify what the 24 year old caller stated: this happens all the time. I went to a liberal arts school, which I will not name, but will tell you that it regularly falls in the top 10. In a school of 2000 I know of AT LEAST 12 girls who were sexually assaulted during their time at college. These assaults ranged from gang rapes on one unconscious girl to consensual sex that turned in to forced sodomy. The perpetrators of these crimes were serial offenders. Their acts were brought to the attention of the school, and nothing was done. I know one boy in particular who committed 8 rapes in three years before he was expelled. That is not acceptable. We have a culture that condones, and a society that looks the other way. And our daughters pay the price.

  • libraryshortcake

    Like a caller said, this was a trigger event for me too. Ever since Steubenville brought this out into the open I’ve been re-living things that happened when I was a teenager and I’m glad that photographs were not taken and couldn’t “go viral” back then, but I’m livid that certain others got away with their actions as though they did nothing wrong, and I suffered embarrassment, shame, and social ostracism, when I did NOTHING wrong.

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Flickr/Steve Rhodes

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