The trial against two football players accused of the rape of a 16-year old girl will begin this week in Steubenville, Ohio.
Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17, have plead not guilty to raping the unconscious 16-year old at a party last August. The teens' defense attorney alleges that the girl chose to drink and consented to engaging in sexual acts with the boys.
Attorney Walter Madison represents one of the accused boys and plans to argue that the girl was making her own choices that evening and never said no. "The person who is the accuser here is silent just as she was that night, and that's because there was consent," he said.
Yes, you did read that right.
Trent Mays' attorney, Adam Lee Nemann, says there’s no evidence to prove the victims claim that she was assaulted. "There's probably a lot of indiscretion on her part as well ... but what is consistent is that the evidence does not show there was a sexual assault."
It's obvious that the attorneys will be using victim blaming in order to cast doubt on the 16-year old's credibility. But hopefully the jury will be able to see past the cheap legal trick and see that someone who is vomiting and has to be physically moved from location-to-location cannot be able to give consent.
Under Ohio law, however, a victim doesn’t have to resist or say the word no for rape to occur. It is up to the prosecutors of the case to prove that the victim was substantially impaired and therefore unable to give consent.
The Occupy Steubenville group plans to protest outside the court house during the trial. The silent protest will commence at 11 a.m. EST on March 13, the day the trial is scheduled to begin.
Attorney General of Ohio Mike DeWine will not announce whether or not more individuals will be charged until after the trial.
DeWine is likely referring to the fact that no one else has been charged in connection with the case, despite clear involvement from other individuals. Most notably, Michael Nodianos, another football player, clearly appeared in the 12-minute-long YouTube video laughing and joking about the victim. In the video he made regular mention of rape and referred to the unconscious victim as the "dead girl."
Nodianos and others could have at least been charged with failing to report a crime. Under Ohio law, failing to report a crime is a misdemeanor.
Mike Dewine gave an interview to the Marietta Times back on February 11, 2013. In it he defended his office's prosecution of the case. He also defended the fact that his office sent out letters to some of the boys involved in the case three days before they testified in front of a grand jury.
Attorney Walter Madison said DeWine had offered the other witnesses immunity in exchange for their testimony against Mays and Richmond, but DeWine’s office has categorically denied this.
Still, the letters were thought by some to be at the very least a quid pro quo. In it, the letters inform the attorneys and the boys that they will not be prosecuted and that their actions did not amount to criminal conduct.
Ohio Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter told the boys at the hearing that they were not being prosecuted because a forensic specialist was unable to recover deleted photos of the victim from the boys cell phones. It is illegal in Ohio to hold or distribute photos of naked minors.
The court proceedings will be closed to the public, but all eyes will be on the small town of 18,000 anyway ... and they should be.