After a series of parties in Steubenville Ohio on August 12, 2012, one 16-year-old girl woke up from being extremely drunk receiving text messages suggesting she had been raped. The alleged perpetrators are Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, and the small down-on-its-luck town is divided on the merits of the case, as the trial goes on and is expected to conclude this Sunday. The bulk of the evidence is a confusing batch of texts that have gone amidst various students and a couple pictures of a nude girl on a cell phone — all which leaves a muddy picture of what actually happened.
The girl texted one of the teen boys in question, asking what happened “last night.”
“And don’t lie about anything. I need to know the truth. People keep asking. Idk what to say.”
“Nothing happened last night,” saying also she performed a sex act on him.
As CNN detailed the text exchange, one message addressed Mays: “Did u do it?” to which he responded “No, lol. She could barely move.”
Another texted him “how dead is she?” to which he responded, “not at all, she’s looking for her phone.”
Still another message from May said, “I’m pissed all I got was a hand job, though. I should have raped since everyone thinks I did.”
The extent of the rape seems to be digital penetration of the girl’s vagina by both boys. While the defense wants to put to question whether the teens even texted those messages — it could have been anybody, the defense alleges — the prosecutor’s burden is to prove that the boys knew she was too drunk to consent that night.
The girl’s 17-year-old friend said they shared a half bottle of vodka mixed with a flavored crushed ice drink, and then the 16-year-old had some beer and quickly became drunk, slurring her words, stumbling, and vomiting.
Determining how drunk a person has to be when they are no longer able to give consent is tricky territory to legislate around, and makes a confusing trial that has polarized the town.
Critics of the case claim that the town’s football team, of which both of the boys are members, have been shielded from criticism and therefore other students didn’t do enough to prevent the assault. Other misconduct of the team has been noted.
There is a visiting Judge, Thomas Lipps, presiding without a jury, who is expected to reach a verdict by Sunday.