Perhaps the healing can now begin in Steubenville, Ohio, after the rape trial that made national news has come to a close with verdicts declaring both defendants "delinquent," the equivalent of guilty in juvenille court cases.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, will serve at least one year in juvenille detention, pending behavioral evaluations to determine their rehabilitation, for digitally penetrating a 16 year old girl in the back seat of a vehicle and later in the basement of a residence on August 11, 2012. Witnesses testified that the girl was too intoxicated to have given consent. Mays was sentenced to an additional year for disseminating nude photos of the victim, who's identity has been kept annonymous since she is a minor. Both boys will be required to register as sex offenders and will undergo mandatory mental health treatment for perpetrators of sex crimes during their detention.
The case has stirred national debate, not only because of the heinous nature of the crime, in which prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said the two boys treated the victim, "Like a toy," while she was so inebriated that she had vomited and appeared to have blacked out, but because of the continued traumatization of the victim through social media in the days and weeks that followed.
The Ohio State Attorney General's office seized a total of 13 cell phones and sited nearly 400,000 text messages, more than 300,000 photos, and 940 videos pertaining to the assaults, which had been circulated to as many as 16,000 contacts through social media sites such as Facebook.
Attorney General Mike DeWine has requested a grand jury hearing to determine if more charges will be filed as he communicated his abhorrence for the role social media played in this case. The Associated Press reported that the State Attorney General's office is particularly concerned with the number of witnesses who stood by and failed to intervene during the assaults, individuals who posted videos and photos of the rape, and other possible perpetrators who took part in the assaults. There have also been allegations that coaches and other mandated reporters may have known about the events of August 11th and kept quiet for fear of jeopardizing the championship winning football team on which both boys were players.
"Any rape is a tragedy . . . made more difficult when the victim continues to be re-victimized in social media," DeWine stated in a press conference after the verdict was given on Sunday. He went on to say that rape and sexual assault are societal problems that need to be addressed nationwide, pointing out that sex crimes occur every Friday and Saturday night across the U.S. and are met with a seemingly "casual attitude" by many. "Enough is enough," said DeWine, "This is wrong. This has to stop. We should not tolerate this anymore as a people...rape is not a recreational activity, rape is not okay."