CNN’s coverage of Sunday’s Steubenville rape trial verdict was so offensive and abhorrant that it would be worthy of being parodied by comedy news website The Onion — except The Onion already did a parody of CNN’s rape coverage … in 2011! Check out this piece from The Onion’s SportsDome, which ran on Comedy Central, called “College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed,” and shudder at how eerily similar it is to CNN’s very real Steubenville coverage yesterday morning. It would be funny if it wasn’t so goddamn depressing. [HyperVocal]
UPDATE : Okay, I’ve put the video back, in two parts, minus Trent Mays’ testimony.
UPDATE: I have pulled the video from this post for the time being, as I believe at one point in the eight minute segment, you can hear Mays use the victim’s name. I’ll try to replace the video with a version where her name is bleeped out ASAP. Further info on how Fox News, MSNBC and CNN did not bleep out the victim’s name here.
Yesterday morning, I watched with knots in my stomach as the Steubenville rape verdict was delivered. The evidence — including three key eye witness testimonies, photographs and incriminating text messages — against Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond was vast and it seemed hard to imagine that Judge Tom Lipps wouldn’t convict. Because there was so much evidence that physical contact had occurred between the victim (Jane Doe) and the defendants, the defense focused on trying to prove that while the victim was drunk, she wasn’t so drunk that she couldn’t consent to these acts. Therefore, the verdict in this case, which has drawn international attention, would do much to define when consent can be given in the eyes of the law. And given that this is hardly an isolated incident in one small football-loving town — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine emphasized that rape is a societal problem that is happening in towns and cities all across this country and the world — the decision in this case would be sending a clear message to victims and perpetrators far and wide.
Luckily, Judge Lipps rendered a guilty verdict on all three charges, sentencing Mays to a minimum of two years served consecutively and Richmond to a minimum of one year. At maximum, both could serve time in jail until they are 21. Both will have to register as juvenile sex offenders. Considering the pair could have been tried as adults and thus could have faced much harsher sentences, Judge Lipps ignored their parents’ and attorneys requests for further leniency, saying the sentences were practically a slap on the wrist.
That didn’t stop CNN, however, from being all torn up about it.
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UPDATE : Mays has been sentenced to serve two years consecutively at minimum, or until he is 21 at maximum. Richmond has been sentenced to serve one year at minimum, or until he is 21 at maximum. Both will be required to register as juvenile sex offenders. Both may not have contact with the victim at least until they are 21. They will both be taken into custody today. Judge Lipps responds to calls for leniency by saying such leniency was shown by not trying the defendants as adults.
UPDATE: Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond have been found guilty on all three counts. The prosecutor has asked Judge Tom Lipps to consider the harassment and victim-blaming the victim also dealt with when deciding sentencing. “The absolute disregard for another human being can not go unpunished.” One of the defense lawyers teared up and asked for a moment to collect himself. You can watch a livestream here.
Trent Mays stood up and apologized for “taking pictures” and “sending pictures around.” “No pictures should have been taken,” Mays said before sitting down. Mays makes no mention of the actual sexual assault. Ma’lik Richmond approached the victim who was sitting in the courtroom, and broke down in tears as he apologized, speaking in non-specific terms. Richmond’s father asked Judge Lipps for forgiveness. Keep reading »
A teenager testified in the Steubenville rape trial today that he’d personally witnessed defendant Trent Mays put his fingers inside the victim’s vagina as they drove from one party to another, and even recorded it on his cellphone—though he says he deleted the video the next morning, realizing he’d done “something stupid and wrong.” The 17-year-old testified only after the judge gave him immunity from prosecution, the AP reports. Witness accounts are crucial to the trial, because the victim doesn’t appear to remember what happened. Read more…
***Trigger warning in video for simulated rape***
This week began the trial of Trenton Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two teenaged boys in Steubenville, Ohio, who were charged with the rape and kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl at a high school party this August. The boys are members of the Steubenville High School football team, local celebrities in a football-obsessed culture. Other members of the team witnessed the alleged sexual assault by Mays and Richmond of the girl, who was blackout drunk and vomiting on herself. Partygoers snapped pictures of her being carried around by her arms and legs and tweeted and texted pics of her degradation; another student at the party filmed a video where he joked about the “dead girl.”
Ever since the Steubenville rape began getting press coverage, the former porn star Traci Lords has been vocal about the local culture’s misogynistic culture. She herself was raped in Steubenville at age 10 by a 14-year-old boy. Yesterday, Lords, who is now a musician, released a song called “Stupidville” — a slang term for the town that the locals use — about sexual assault. Keep reading »
A new defense secretary has just been confirmed and already he has a big issue to address: sexual assault in the military. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Full disclosure: I used to work in her office), and Senator Janeane Shaheen (D-NH) recently sent a letter requesting Chuck Hagel immediately review a decision by an Air Force Lieutenant General to dismiss all charges against an officer who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson, a fighter pilot, had been charged with aggravated sexual assault on former colleague Kimberly Hanks at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Hanks had been socializing with Wilkerson and his wife at their home and stayed the evening in their guest bedroom; in the middle of the night, she woke up to find Wilkerson on top of her. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in the brig (AKA military prison). But he never served any time in prison because his superior, Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, dismissed the jury’s conviction and reinstated him. Senators Boxer and Shaheen and others are rightfully concerned that a troop charged with sexual assault was let off scot-free.
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