Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard something or other in the past month about a horrifying gang-rape case out of Steubenville, Ohio, involving two of the town’s star football players, an inebriated out-of-town girl, and an alarming number of adults willing to defend the boys and blame the girl. (Because: football! Is there anything more important?)
Actually, if you have been living under a rock, consider yourself lucky, because this case just gets uglier with every new bit of information. With the juvenile-court date approaching in early February and online activists (both masked and not) stepping up to protest the city’s handling of the case, there’s going to be even more to parse in the coming weeks. So here’s a primer on the events.
• In December, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece titled “Rape Case Unfolds Online and Splits City,” setting out the basics of the case and painting a picture we’ve all come to know a little too well—a small town that lionizes its teen football stars and whose residents are far more concerned with how this crime will affect the boys’ lives than with, well, the fact that they committed a crime. The piece quoted Big Red assistant coach Nate Hubbard suggesting that the victim made up the entire story, saying:
“The rape was just an excuse, I think…. What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?”…. “She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”
• As the blog Mommyish reports, some of the parents of the accused have made statements via social media that are equally disturbing and victim-blamey.
• The blogger who really broke the case for the mainstream media was Alexandra Goddard of Prinniefied.com. Once those involved in the case knew that the victim and her parents had come forward, they set about deleting evidence of the crime—tweets, photographs, and videos taken during the night’s proceedings, many of which left no doubt that a rape had occurred. Goddard’s screen shots have ensured that social media evidence of the rapes can’t be covered up. Prinniefied.com continues to cover the case, with a timeline of events and video of news coverage.
• And then hacking collective Anonymous got involved. Last week, the vigilante Anonymous offshoot known as KnightSec publicized a 12-minute video of Michael Nodianos, a former Steubenville high-school student and once and future awful person, laughing and joking about the rapes, seemingly while they were occurring. If you don’t have the stomach to watch this douchecanoe amuse himself, I’ll nutshell it for you: He says things like “They raped her harder than that cop raped Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction,” and says that the victim is “Deader than Trayvon Martin.” Nodianos currently attends Ohio State University, where students and others are calling for his expulsion.
• “Occupy Steubenville” protests have garnered the case even more notice in the past week. Alison Kilkenny writes at the Nation about the demonstrations, launched by Anonymous to hold county sheriff Fred Abdalla accountable for allegedly shielding the two defendants from deeper investigation by Steubenville police because of his friendship with the high school’s football coach.
• Steubenville itself has become the subject of reflection and anger by current and former residents. Former porn star Traci Lords, who was raised in Steubenville, guested on Roseanne Barr’s radio show to talk about her rape at the age of 10, and the culture of “maschismo” in the football-obsessed city. A current Steubenville resident sent a message of support to the protestors, noting that her own rape in 1995 had been belittled by sheriff Abdalla as the result of “asking for a good time.”
• As of right now, lawyers for the defendants are asking for the trial to be postponed and moved out of Steubenville.
Do you have thoughts about the case? I mean, besides just wanting to kick stuff in frustration? Share them below.