The Steubenville verdict was announced yesterday and Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond have been sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison facility. Mays was sentenced to an additional year because he took a photo of the underage victim. The sentence was barely out before Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he was continuing his investigation to consider charges against anyone involved who hasn’t spoken up. A grand jury trial is already in the works, with evidence “from dozens of interviews, including with the Steubenville football team's 27 coaches.”
The story has been on our minds since it first broke. It tapped into an oh-so-real anger and outrage in us because it proved that there is still SO much to be done. The fight against our rape culture is far from over. I know you all will understand my frustration when I heard about the actual verdict and researched the media’s reception of it. Let’s not even discuss the victim blaming on social media. Judge Lipps, during sentencing, urged the boys, "to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends."
CNN jumped on the case, immediately following the conviction announcement. Their coverage focused on the promising futures of the football players and how the conviction will label them as bad-seeds. The media seems to be willingly sympathizing with the (freshly convicted) rapists and stick to the fallen sports-star narrative. True, it is sad to learn of wasted potential and a wrecked future for these young men, but it is even sadder to think that they did the things they did. We don’t feel bad to learn that they will suffer the consequences of their (well-documented) actions. The harmed party has been largely ignored… because the scars of sexual assault are invisible and last a lifetime.
Change.org already has a petition up, with over 30,000 signatures, demanding an apology from the CNN team for sympathizing with the rapists. Not one mention of the victim. Not one!