Steubenville rape case proves that society must stop idolizing athletes
After the release of a disturbing twelve minute video by the hacker group Anonymous, a pending sexual assault case in Steubenville, Ohio has captured the nation’s attention.
The video, which is still unconfirmed as legitimate footage, shows a group of young men joking about the unconscious state of the victim as well as the rape that, according to Anonymous, happened moments before. Two sixteen-year old members of the Steubenville High School football team, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, were arrested Aug. 22 for the rape that allegedly occurred Aug. 11-12, but Anonymous claims that more people should be prosecuted based on the video. The group has organized two protests in the past two weeks in support of charging more with the crime.
“It looks as though a town rife with corruption, cronyism, illegal gambling and fixated upon their star high school football team (a major economic revenue engine) is prepared to orchestrate a major cover-up in order to sweep the entire affair under the rug,” said a post on Local Leaks, a Wikileaks-style that is attempting to uncover more details about the case. “As this disclosure will document, this cover-up was perpetrated by people in the high school administration, local government and law enforcement.”
In response to the Anonymous protests, the flurry of information flowing on social networks, and the influx of media attention in the last week, the city of Steubenville and local police formed a website called Steubenville Facts that lists a timeline of the case as well as a description of how local government agencies are involved. This latter piece of the website is clearly intended to repudiate the claims that the football team controlling the city. The hacking and subsequent defacement of a Steubenville High School Athletics website also caused other city officials to comment on the allegation of the football team controlling the city.
“When people are saying that our police department did not follow procedure, that the football team runs the city, that is not the case,” City Manager Cathy Davison said, according to Salon Jan. 6. “They went by the book.”
The country may never know if some of the people involved in the alleged crime were shielded because of their involvement with the football team. It is important to remember that the video posted by Anonymous is still unconfirmed and that the group may very well be simply attempting to gain media attention by making controversial claims.
However, today’s society does often treat its athletes as though they are above the law. When football players in the National Football League are indicted with the crime of assault, they are typically only fined for a crime that often deserves jail time. Michael Dixon, former basketball star at the University of Missouri-Columbia, successfully hid suspicions of rape hidden throughout his college years because he was so crucial to Mizzou’s winning season.
Until society holds athletes to the same standards as non-athletes, incidents like what happened in Steubenville are destined to continue. #