The Steubenville, Ohio “Rape Crew” is going to court, but perhaps not locally anymore. Trent Mays, one of the two teenagers being charged with raping a 16-year-old girl last August and dragging her from party to party to be photographed and assaulted, has an attorney who apparently believes that changing the location of the trial will somehow decrease the amount of threatening negativity surrounding his client.
According to CNN, Mays’ lawyer Adam Nemann wants to move the trial out of Steubenville because of the publicity “and what we perceive as threats to individuals, perhaps witnesses, and also defendants and even defense counsel.” Although he refused to elaborate, he did say that the “explosion” of online postings and heavy media coverage are what’s driving their desire to change the location of the trial. “We’re concerned about safety issues at this point,” he said.
Now, obviously it would be lovely if somebody had been concerned with the safety issues of the young woman who was assaulted, although changing locations repeatedly seems to be a running theme for the alleged assailants.
The case received national attention after a video of several high school athletes, now known as the infamously self-titled “Rape Crew”, circulated around the Internet. One of the teenagers in the video, Michael Nodianos, actually gave a play-by-play on what allegedly took place the night that the young woman was assaulted. While I am appalled and revolted in every way by the words said in those tweets and in that video, I think that the general consensus among the public has been, “These people are horrendous human beings,” which has at least somewhat comforting. Unfortunately, there is still a whole lot of the “boys will be boys” mentality, which Amanda dissected last week, but I am glad that at least this issue is garnering the national attention it so deeply deserves.
The problem with attempting to move the trial is that, as Jezebel writer Laura Beck says, “it strikes me as fairly futile — I’m pretty sure they could move this thing to Mars and Martians would be all ‘Oh SRSLY? Fuck those guys.’” Fuck those guys, indeed. However, it is difficult to deny that a trial in their hometown may result in a bias, whether it’s for or against them. On the one hand, the town has received so much negative attention from media outlets stating that the football team is a priority over rape victims — this may be true or it could be an exaggeration, but either way, Steubenville has been looking pretty terrible to the rest of the world, so the punishment that the defendants receive could reflect the town’s need to show that it does care for crime victims. Or, the pair could also receive leniency in the event that this portrayal was actually accurate; and sadly, there’s a long-standing tradition in the legal system to be pretty forgiving of rapists.
In any case, I am, at the very least, extremely happy that there has been national attention regarding this trial, and I hope that we, as human beings, don’t lose our concentration or determination to maintain this as a national issue.