I haven't written about the ongoing Steubenville rape trial here on Slog—even though I know you guys have been HOWLING for more rape coverage—because reading about it makes me want to drink heavily in my crying closet. But it's important, so here we go.
One of the witnesses, a 17-year-old, told Judge Thomas Lipps that he used his cell phone to record Mays putting his fingers inside the girl's vagina during a drive from one party to another. The boy said he deleted the video the next morning when he realized it was wrong.
... The teen also told the court Mays later attempted to have the girl perform a sex act on him in the basement of a home, where they ended up after the initial alleged incident in the car.
"She didn't really respond to it," he said.
One [text] message asked Mays: "Did u do it?" He responded, according to [a computer forensic investigator named Joann] Gibb: "No, lol. She could barely move." Still another graphic message from Mays to a friend appeared to detail his anger over being accused of rape. "I'm pissed all I got was a hand job, though. I should have raped since everyone thinks I did," the message said, according to Gibb.
I keep returning to this point: Regardless of whether 16-year-old Ma'Lik Richmond and 17-year-old Trent Mays are found guilty as charged of digitally penetrating the allegedly drunk teen in their company (an act that constitutes rape in Ohio), there's no question in my mind that she was thoroughly degraded. Re-read those text messages. Look at that blurry photograph that shows her being slung around like big game, or dead meat. A trophy. Plenty of people took notice of her that night but seemingly didn't attempt to stop what was happening (if they tried, we have to assume it wasn't very hard).
Perhaps Richmond and Mays were prompted by malice when they decided to cart her around all evening, or perhaps they were raised to believe that women really are humanish playthings and this was their fucked-up version of a lighthearted game. The end result was the same—this poor teenager was objectified and humiliated by seemingly everyone she came into contact with that night. She was in a bad situation, she needed help, and she didn't receive it.
Even if Richmond and Mays are found guilty, how do you find peace after a betrayal of that magnitude? When what feels like half a town witnessed you helpless, and vulnerable, and failed to act? When you can't remember what was done to you? When you'll never know for certain what exactly happened?