Court proceedings are set to begin in February for the Steubenville, Ohio, high school football stars accused of raping and kidnapping a 16-year-old girl while she was passed out drunk. After months of cover up by school and public officials, and a community rallying around their beloved athletes rather than the girl they victimized, justice may finally be on its way.
The problem: the trial is scheduled for juvenile court.
Trying this case in juvenile court is the equivalent of saying "boys will be boys." They don't need a slap on the wrist or a year or two in juvie, they need to do real time in a real prison like the real rapists they are.
There's a petition on whitehouse.gov to have the case removed to criminal court with nearly 11,000 signatures so far.
"This is a serious offense," the petition reads, "and this needs to be an example for everyone that this type of behavior should not, and will not be tolerated in our society."
It's been said over and over that the central problem in this case is the boys' lack of understanding of the real weight of their actions, their feeling that they could get away with anything. Treating rape and kidnapping, not to mention documenting the assault and joking about it later, like some petty vandalism case and giving them a stern talking to and a time out will only reinforce those ideas.
The idea behind juvenile court is supposedly to focus on education and rehabilitation rather than punishment. But in this case, severe punishment and a harsh dose of reality may be the only hope for rehabilitation.