Patrice Ellerbe, Staff Writer
Last Modified: 01:00 a.m. DST, 23 March 2013
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Two high school football players, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping a heavily intoxicated 16-year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio last August. According to CNN reports, the victim was noticeably intoxicated as the rape occurred. Although the two teens were found guilty early this week, it is interesting to hear how the media has responded to the controversial case.
Adam Mordecai, a contributor to Upworthy news site, suggests CNN focused more on the convicted rapists rather than the victim. On the Upworthy site, Mordecai lists the gist of the statements made as the press somewhat sympathized with the football players. CNN correspondents made at least six statements in reference to the teen boys’ “impressive resumes”, altered decisions as an effect of underage drinking, bravery, and more. One statement even mentioned the reporter felt the boys’ lives will be harder after they are convicted.
It becomes shocking when the media defends men for raping a young woman. The boys were aware of what was going on. Not only have they destroyed their futures, but they scarred a young woman for eternity. Although teens will be teens, there is no excuse for what these teens have done. The media has been insensitive to the victim as well as her family. It seems as if the media is behind the teens, hoping they recover and are less concerned about the victim.
Candy Crowley, a journalist for CNN, stated on air, “I cannot imagine how emotional the sentencing must have been….a 16-year-old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16-year-olds. What is the lasting effect of two young men being found guilty in juvenile court essentially of rape?”
Poppy Carlow, a CNN reporter, said outside the courtroom after the sentencing, “It was incredibly difficult to watch as these two young men who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watch as they believed their lives fell apart.”
Another CNN correspondent, “Paul Callan”, said “There’s always that moment of justice when lives are destroyed. But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law. That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
According to the Huffington Post, CNN reported a statement from the victim’s mother who said the verdicts are “the start of a new beginning for my daughter. We need to stress the importance of helping those in need and to stand up for what is right.” It doesn’t seem as though CNN has taken her advice.
The teen girl was highly sedated and practically unconscious when Mays and Richmond were performing the ruthless sexual acts. Reports read Mays was given a longer sentence because he released photos through text messages, of the rape.
Recollection of that night was given by numerous teen witnesses. According to an unidentified witness, the girl was seen hunched over and violently vomiting. She was then seen sitting in the middle of the street where the party was located. She was ridiculed and eventually left there for the time being.
When questioned in the court room, teen witnesses clearly showed they were unaware of the definition of rape. When asked why they didn’t stop the rape, a teen witness responded “It wasn’t violent”, insinuating it was only considered rape if they were forcing themselves on the female. The male witness that gave this respond also stated he walked in the room during the time the victim was being violated. He could see she was unresponsive to the acts, however, he did not stop it.
Earlier that night, teens witnessed Richmond and Mays in the back seat of a car with the 16-year-old female. Video of the setting was obtained by police, where they saw Richmond and Mays fondling the girl and passing the video camera around.
Even with increased public outcry and pressure on the network, CNN has remained silent on its original stance of focusing more on the perpetrators than the victim. Richmond received a minimum of one year in a youth correctional institution, but is eligible to receive a longer sentence. Mays receive one year for the rape and an additional year as well. Both boys will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, and can remain incarcerated until they turn 21.
UPDATE 26.3.13: As Editor-in-Chief it was my decision to publish the article with the selected title. The substance of the article is about the fact that CNN should have focused more on the victim than on the perpetrators.
In the ensuing controversy CNN and other media outlets no longer continue to solicit sympathy for the perpetrators, but for many it is not enough. A verbal, written retraction is being sought via a petition; however, whether this occurs or not, CNN has retreated into silence on this issue.
We appreciate all constructive criticism, but personal attacks are unwelcome. The title and post have been edited to clarify our position.
Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe
- Should There Be Sympathy For Steubenville Rapists? (npr.org)
- Life After Steubenville (newyorker.com)
- CNN’s Not the Only One Peddling Sympathy for the Steubenville Rapists (theatlanticwire.com)