Where’s the justice in Steubenville?

For the past seven months, the country has been divided and outraged regarding a Steubenville, Ohio rape case involving two star football players from the local high school.  On Aug. 11, 2012, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond digitally raped an unnamed 16-year-old girl who, just moments before, had lain in the street, clad only in shorts and a bra, vomiting while boys offered each other three dollars to urinate on her.  

What is perhaps even more disturbing than the facts that these boys raped this girl then bragged to their friends via pictures and text messages is that three of the boys’ friends, two of whom took video or pictures of the rape, received no punishment whatsoever on account of testifying against Mays and Richmond. According to the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch, “One witness, Evan Westlake, 18, testified that he didn’t step in to stop the defendants because he wasn’t sure that what he saw was a sexual assault,”  despite the fact that the girl, “lay motionless on the floor as the sex acts occurred.”

Are you kidding me?  You watch as a nearly comatose, motionless girl is being digitally raped, as her attackers try to force her to perform oral sex, and you think it’s consensual, as the defense tried to portray?  

Everything about this case disgusts me, not the least of which being that, according to CNN.com, “Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a juvenile correctional facility. Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year, but like Mays, he could be in detention until he is 21,” which is a far too lenient punishment.  In addition, the two boys who took video and pictures of the girl’s degradation will suffer no legal consequences, simply because they agreed to testify.

My question to you is: “Where’s the justice in that?”

I understand that Mays and Richmond are just teens, with their whole lives ahead of them, and that one night of disgusting, degrading, downright dumb decisions ruined life as they knew it and put their entire futures in jeopardy.  However, they are not the victims in this case, as many in the town of Steubenville and some football fans nationwide are choosing to believe.  No, the real victim is the poor girl who was forced to endure digital penetration while she was too intoxicated to object, the girl who suffered a flurry of texts, pictures and rumors that have ruined her reputation, the girl whose only saving grace that night is that no one took the three-dollar pee-on-the-drunk-girl dare.

For the boys, their humiliation is over, now that the trial and sentencing are complete.  For the true victim, the girl, the nightmare continues, with Good Morning America reporting a 16-year-old girl was charged with aggravated menacing for allegedly threatening the life of the victim via Twitter, and a 15-year-old was charged with menacing for allegedly threatening bodily harm via Facebook.  

When did athletes become gods in our society?  When did committing a crime become okay so long as you were a rock star in your sport?  Cases like this one, in addition to those involving Penn State and Duke’s lacrosse team, really make you wonder what our legal system is allowing our society to come to, when the roles of victims and perpetrators are allowed to blur and reverse and when witnesses get off scot-free just because they testify.