From The Grio — In August 2012, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two of Steubenville High School’s Big Red football players, attended a number of parties in the closely-knit, football-centered town of Steubenville, Ohio. During the evening, tweets referencing a “gang rape” and an Instagram image of a seemingly intoxicated girl being held by her hands and feet hit the web. Many of the comments and tweets associated with the posts made light of the alleged sexual assault.
The alleged rape was witnessed by several people, three of whom testified in October that they saw the two defendants sexually assault the accuser in a car on their way from one party to another, and then again when they arrived at their destination. Witnesses claim Mays and Richmond raped the young girl while she was passed out drunk and unable to resist.
Acquaintance rape is not a myth. However, the defense attorneys in the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial, set to begin Wednesday are prepared to argue that the alleged rape was not rape, but consensual sex, even though the accuser was unconscious, according to witnesses. “We’re denying that there was any non-consensual contact, period,” defense attorney Adam Nemann told The New York Times.
The Steubenville defense strategy is an exercise in victim blaming 101. All too often in rape cases, defense attorneys — and society — generally focus their attention on the actions of the accuser. How much was she drinking? Did she flirt with the boys? Is the accuser a good girl? What did she do to put herself in that situation? Did she say no?
None of these questions matter. Yet unfortunately in these situations, the accuser often becomes the one on trial in the court of public opinion.
No one ever asks what the accused were doing to bring about the rape accusation. What made Mays and Richmond think it was okay to carry a girl, seemingly too intoxicated to walk, from party to party? If the accuser was passed out and unable to walk, as some witnesses have described, why didn’t Mays and Richmond seek out transportation so that she could make it home safely?
No one ever questions why Mays and Richmond thought it was fun to hold the accuser by her hands and feet like a rag doll, with her head hanging back limply while an onlooker took a picture of her. No one ever asks why the accused thought it would be fun to use their hands to penetrate a drunken girl. No one ever asks.