Steubenville Rape Case: Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays May Just Be the First to Be Convicted

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said additional charges will be considered for anyone who kept quiet about the rape of a 16-year-old girl. The two football players charged with rape have been found guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Ma'lik Richmond will serve a minimum of one year, while Trent Mays will serve a minimum of two because of his possession and transmission of a nude photo of the minor. 

DeWine will convene a grand jury next month to investigate whether or not any additional charges can be filed in the case. Investigators identified some 43 people who attended at least one of the two parties where the assaults happened. 16 of those individuals refused to cooperate with authorities. These individuals were never interviewed by the police. In total, investigators have conducted 56 interviews, including the owners of the home where one of the parties occurred. 

"A grand jury is an investigative tool that is uniquely suited to ensure fairness and to complete this investigation. And this community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth." DeWine said in a news conference following the verdict on Sunday. 

Ohio law makes it a crime to not report a felony, like rape. There were obvious witnesses to the crime, one of whom was Evan Westlake. Westlake, who is 18, took the stand at the trial of the two football players. When prosecutors asked him why he did nothing to stop the crime he answered, "It wasn't violent. I didn't know exactly what rape was. I thought it was forcing yourself on someone."

There were obviously some people present who did know what was happening was a crime. The 12-minute video that was widely circulated online of Michael Nodianos would indicate that that these people knew what was happening was rape or at least suspected it. Nodianos himself openly called it "rape" multiple times during the video, so everyone there while that video was being made would have known a felony was being or had been committed. 

Westlake’s response highlights the other issue that the defense for the two football players tried to exploit, our misguided and incorrect societal definition of rape. The attorney general touched on this during his statement to the press on Sunday.  

"Everything that has happened in Steubenville has been very difficult — very, very sad — and very tragic, But let me be clear — this is not just a Steubenville problem. This is a societal problem. What's even more appalling is that crimes of sexual assault are occurring every Friday night and every Saturday night in big and small communities around this country, And there comes a point where we must say enough. This has to stop." 

Other charges that may be considered might center around the nude photos and videos of the victim that were distributed by the rapists and their friends. Authorities examined 13 phones, 940 videos, and 308,586 photos as part of their investigation. These parties happened at the homes of several students; the owners of these homes could be held responsible for the underage drinking that occurred. Under Ohio state law it is prohibited to provide or furnish underage individuals with alcohol; that crime is punishable by a fine and prison time. The grand jury is scheduled to meet on April 15. 

These students'and this community's attitude concerning rape is a microcosm of our own attitudes about rape and who we seek to blame. By filing more charges in this case, by holding the individuals who attempted to cover this crime up responsible, we begin the slow, arduous process of breaking down the culture that enables the pervasiveness of rape and sexual violence in America.

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Andrea Ayres-Deets

PM Politics Intern- M.A. in Writing from the University of Warwick. Lover of sci-fi, awkward situations, and coffee.

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