Justice for Jane Doe in Steubenville case

Less than a year ago, Steubenville rapists Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. Now, I’m pretty comfortable will calling them the “Steubenville rapists” because when you choose to rape somebody, you are therefore a rapist. At the time, Richmond apparently sobbed upon hearing the verdict and said, “My life is over.” I didn’t feel bad for him then and I don’t feel bad for him now, as choosing to sexually assault another human being is not the same as, say, getting drunk at a house party or failing chemistry twice. It’s a choice to do something horrible, cruel, degrading and vile to another human being who did not receive that same choice, but will have to live with the one somebody else made forever.

Richmond is now out of the Ohio juvenile detention facility he was sentenced to, which is a little terrifying to me given the fact that he’s been there for such a short period of time. And by the way, Richmond’s attorney would like to inform you that he is the one who deserves your empathy, as his statement to the press shows:

“The past sixteen months have been extremely challenging for Ma’lik and his extended family. At sixteen years old, Ma’lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagine for any adult yet alone child.”

Remember that time when raping somebody wasn’t a choice and was simply a “hardship”? I do not. But let’s move on.

“He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life, as with each other obstacle, Ma’lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin, and set his shoulders; He is braced for the balance of his life. While away, Ma’lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways. He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family. At this point, Ma’lik wants most to be a high school teenager in conjunction with his release, Ma’lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, as we all need to heal and move on with our lives.”

It’s so cool how they want people to respect their privacy when he not only chose to rape a 16-year-old girl, his friends also chose to pass around images of her being assaulted.

Jane Doe, as anybody with the power of rationality and logic already knows, is the one who deserves our sympathy and empathy. While I typically don’t feel that we need to “side” with one person in every situation, I do think there is a definitive victim here. And, not that anybody ever needs to deal with their trauma in any way other than their choosing, she also chose to donate money she was receiving from supporters to the YWCA Wheeling Battered Women’s Shelter.

Since the Steubenville case broke a year ago, there have been so many people who have criticized the way the rapists paraded their actions, the way many of the town’s adults ignored the rapists’ choices, the way the media felt more pity for the rapists than the actual survivor. But there have also been people like Serena Williams, who felt the rapists just did “something stupid” and that the girl was partially to blame, as well as CNN, who expressed its sympathies to the rapists whose lives were oh-so-ruined by, you know, raping somebody.

Jane Doe’s lawyer Bob Fitzsimmons said this regarding Richmond’s attorney’s words:

“Although everyone hopes convicted criminals are rehabilitated, it is disheartening that this convicted rapist’s press release does not make a single reference to the victim and her family – whom he and his co-defendant scarred for life. One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself. Rape is about victims, not defendants. Obviously, the people writing his press release have yet to learn this important lesson.”

All of these are excellent points–if Richmond wants to be perceived as a human being who’s now capable of making remotely positive decisions, he should have taken more any responsibility for what he did upon his release. Instead, his attorney made it a pity party for the assailant, whose “hardness” and “unfortunate set of circumstances” were all enacted on his own accord.