I probably don’t need to tell you what’s dominating the world of Vagina News today. But I will – Steubenville.
There’s a LOT happening in the wake of Sunday’s verdict. Let me try to round it all up for you.
First, the verdict & sentence. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were tried as juveniles, so things work a little differently. ‘Delinquent’ on all charges (rape, and ‘illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material’ for Mays.) Minimum one year in detention, maximum until they’re 21. (They’re 16 & 17 now.) It’s unclear whether they will remain on a juvenile sex offenders’ list after that. There’s been a lot of discussion about their statements, in which they expressed remorse for taking & sharing pictures, but not for the rape(s) & assault(s) themselves.
Then there’s the press coverage and ongoing public reaction. CNN’s message was that the lives of these two promising young men have been destroyed. Several media outlets aired the victim’s name, a practice often made illegal by Rape Shield laws, and even more egregious given that this victim is a minor.
Almost immediately following the release of the victim’s name, stories started popping up that she and her family were receiving death threats. (Her legal team said they’d already received an unprecedented number of credible threats over the course of the investigation & trial.) Today, police arrested two young women in association with death threats made against the victim over social media.
This comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine plans to convene a Grand Jury to look into charges against other people involved in the case – and that could be a lot of people. It IS a crime in Ohio to have knowledge of a felony and fail to report it. Then there’s obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, and other related charges that are likely to come into play, as testimony suggests at least one coach knew about the crimes and tried to shield the young men from prosecution, and the small-town football fever in Steubenville leaves a lot of overlap between law enforcement, the legal community, and the football team Mays and Ma’lik played on. It’s all further complicated by the fact that some witnesses have already been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony in the original trial. (Here’s a great visual representation of that mess.)
Finally, there’s an internet full of reaction to all of this, from every imaginable person/organization/angle. (Find and read as you like, but I highly suggest being kind to your soul by avoiding the comments.)
It’s exhausting and heartbreaking and infuriating, and I’m really, really, really glad it’s happening.