If you haven’t been following the Steubenville, Ohio sexual assault case, here’s the gist: a 16-year-old girl attended a series of parties on August 12, 2012, throughout most of which she was dragged around unconscious. The girl alleges was sexually assaulted by at least two high school football players; the accused are Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays. It has been suggested that additional players were involved in the multiple attacks.
Highly disturbing photos and video taken throughout the course of the night were released on January 1, 2013 by a group of anonymous hackers on the site Local Leaks. These hackers believe they have enough evidence to implicate the entire town in the coordination of the attack and the subsequent attempt to cover it up then throw the investigation. The case would probably have been left to obscurity and the attackers never prosecuted if it weren’t for the persistence of a lone blogger, Alexandria Goddard, which led to coverage of the story by The New York Times.
Ma’lik Richmond’s former guardians, Jennifer and Greg Agresta, appeared on the TODAY show this morning to not defend Richmond, but simply to say that the crime is “out of character for Ma’lik.” When pressed by Matt Lauer to reveal whether or not they had confronted Richmond about the details of the night in question, Jennifer Agresta replied, “No, because it doesn’t matter to us.”
Watch the video here in a new window, then come back to this post. Are you back? Good. As you just saw, when the Agrestas were asked if they thought Richmond was guilty of the crimes he’s been accused of, their faces simply went blank, as if to say, yes, we believe he’s guilty. But “it doesn’t matter to us.”
And there you have it. That is the kind of deeply disaffected attitude that allows everyone in a town to align in corruption and cover up the gang assault of a young girl. The prevailing ideology here is, “We don’t care that a girl was raped. All we care about is our team. And we want this boy to know, even if he is convicted of rape, that we don’t care that he’s a rapist. We love him for what he’s done for us and for our town. And it’s unfortunate that this girl couldn’t just play along instead of letting these boys be the conquesting heroes we have created them to be. Your rape, your safety, your bodily integrity and your soul simply doesn’t matter to us. You are not one of us.” The pathology here is truly mind-blowing and beyond sad.
Richmond’s lawyer says his client can’t get a fair trial in Steubenville, and though I agree with the veracity of that assessment, imagine how everyone who ever tried to make anything happen fairly in that town has felt when faced with such insidious corruption? Say what you will about anonymous taking it upon themselves to blow the situation open in the Internet – without their help and the courage of a brave female blogger, this case would never have seen the light of day. Tragic. Unfathomable.
If you have 15 minutes, read The Steubenville Files posted by anonymous. They are a lesson in the dysfunction of American culture, machismo and how we are passing on horrible wounded behavior from one generation to the next. We must all stand up in order to make it stop.