In August, members of a high school football team in Steubenville, Ohio allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl while bystanders uploaded pictures and videos to Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. There were approximately 50 witnesses to the crime.
While the court of public opinion unfolds online, two boys will face criminal charges for their acts in juvenile court.
Members of the feminist group UltraViolet have created a petition asking Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the special prosecutors who are handling the case to prosecute anyone on the scene who took pictures, destroyed evidence, or otherwise failed to help the victim as well as the alleged rapists.
In an article dated December 2012, the New York Times included a detailed description of the photographic evidence found on social media in connection to the crime: “In one photograph posted on Instagram by a Steubenville High football player, the girl, who was from across the Ohio River in Weirton, W.Va., is shown looking unresponsive as two boys carry her by her wrists and ankles. Twitter users wrote the words ‘rape’ and ‘drunk girl’ in their posts.”
Crime blogger Alexandria Goddard said in an interview with CNN’s “Starting Point” that she found evidence on social media that both identified the people involved with the crime by name and detailed a timeline of their actions, which included urinating on the victim.
The hacktivist group Anonymous later uncovered and posted to YouTube the 12-minute clip showing teenagers from the town joking about the rape. Anonymous has posted this video and additional information about the accused football players and town officials involved in the case on the LocalLeaks website.
Steubenville police chief William McCafferty told CNN that the subject of the video, who appeared to be intoxicated, was interviewed by police and was not charged. CNN also confirmed that the police confiscated approximately 11 cell phones and “a couple of iPads” to search for evidence.
Anonymous group members will stage an #OccupySteubenville protest on Saturday, January 5 at the Downtown Steubenville City Hall. They are also creating a donation site for the alleged victim and her family, to be launched later today.
Photo by Rob Kints was taken during the Occupy protest on October 15, 2011 in The Hague, The Netherlands.