Two Steubenville Football Players Found Guilty Of Rape
Two Ohio high school football players accused of raping a 16-year-old girl on an alcohol-fueled night last August have been found guilty and sentenced to jail.
On Sunday, the fifth day of trial in the Steubenville courtroom, Judge Thomas Lipps called the boys "delinquent" on all three counts against them – the juvenile court equivalent to a guilty verdict.
They were each charged with "digitally penetrating" the girl, which meets the state's definition of rape. One boy faced an additional count of distributing a nude photo of a minor.
Since the accused are themselves minors, there was no jury in the trial. One of the boys cried aloud as the verdict was read, and sobs were audible throughout the courtroom.
The 16-year-old was sentenced to a minimum of 1 year in juvenile detention, the 17-year-old to a minimum of 2 years, WKSU reporter Tim Ruddell reports. Both teens face possible maximum sentences to age 21.
The verdict comes after four days of testimony in a trial that has torn the town apart. As the AP reports:
"The case has riveted the small city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and has led to questions about the influence of the popular football team, a source of pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry."
The crux of the case, as CNN puts it, was "whether the alleged victim was too drunk to understand what was happening to her and to consent." Defense lawyers on Saturday put the victim's friends on the stand, who said they had tried to keep the victim from drinking so much.
The victim herself took the stand on Saturday, as The New York Times reports, testifying that "I was embarrassed and scared, and I did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."
The AP has more:
"The accuser said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends, saw a photo of herself from that night and watched a YouTube video in which a student cracks jokes about the alleged rape just hours afterward. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn't explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was."
She told the courtroom that after she discovered how she was treated, one of the boys insisted he had taken care of her through the night. In subsequent text messages between the two, The Times reports, the boy told her, "I'm about to get kicked off my football team."
"The more you bring up football, the more pissed I get, because that's like all you care about," the girl texted back. The boy replied:
"You know that's not all I care about, but that needs to be taken care of first."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.