Courtesy of The Atlantic Wire:
In the past 24 hours, the story of an alleged rape in the small, football-driven Ohio town of Steubenville has transformed from a local controversy with a curious social-media angle to an all-out Internet crusade, with potential cover-ups, allegations of prosecutors colluding with coaches, disgusting new video, and hackers to the rescue. Here’s a primer on what looks like it may become one of the most emotional and controversial news narratives of the new year:
So there was a rape in this small town?
Well, it’s not that simple, but allegedly yes: Two 16-year-old boys from Steubenville High are each facing a rape charge for the assault in August of a 16-year-old girl apparently from across the Ohio River in Weirton, West Virginia.
How come we’re only hearing about this now?
Because a lengthy New York Times story on the case last month got lost in the spotlight on the Newtown school shootings, maybe, or because the Anonymous hacking collective started calling major attention to it this week.
But what makes this rape case different?
You see, Steubenville is the stuff of Friday Night Lights. The 19,000-person eastern Ohio town is a giant football community, and this alleged rape involves member of their storied Big Red team. “Everybody around here goes to games on Friday nights, and I mean everybody — people come for miles,” a local told the Times‘s Juliet Macur and Nate Schweber. “It’s basically the small-town effect. People live and die based on Big Red because they usually win and it makes everybody feel good about themselves when times are tough.”
So how did this assault take place?
Well, back on the night of August 11, the alleged victim was at an end-of-summer party and had a lot to drink, police said, when Trent Mays and Malik Richmond allegedly approached her: “Richmond was behind her, with his hands between her legs, penetrating her with his fingers, a witness said,” reported the The Times.
And how is that different from all the other assaults against young women in this country?
Here’s the chilling part: the alleged victim didn’t know she was assaulted until she started to find out about it on social media the next day.
Really? That’s pretty gross. How did she find out?
Instagram, YouTube, and some pretty disgusting tweets. And the girl’s mother told The Times that her daughter didn’t even know the full extent of the attack until a local paper wrote about it the next day. On August 22, Mays and Richmond were arrested on charges of rape and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge has been dropped, and Mays is also facing a charge involving illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. (Defense attorneys did not respond to requests for comment from The Atlantic Wire.)
Anonymous has more on this horrific story and the cover-up.