Hey, Steubenville: Where Was Everyone?

by Diane Dimond on March 25, 2013

Guilty: Trent Mays,17, (L) and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16

            “There are crimes very similar to this that occur every Friday night and every Saturday night in communities across this country….” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

 Many of us watched with interest the rape case that recently played out in Steubenville, Ohio. The two defendants, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, were star members of the local high school’s football team and many in the community felt they had been maliciously targeted for prosecution because of their popularity.

However, the evidence was overwhelming and both teens were convicted of sexually assaulting a female classmate. There was a video, still pictures and dozens of contemporaneous text and Twitter messages flying back and forth discussing details of the assault.

The victim, a 16 year old girl, was so drunk (or perhaps drugged) that she was unconscious during much of the prolonged assault. Included in the torrent of more than 3 thousand tawdry messages read aloud to the court were those from eye-witnesses and classmates joking about the “dead-looking” victim and saying, “some people deserve” to be urinated upon.

An Example of Ugly Tweets

One text sent the day after the attack from defendant Trent Mays begged a friend to delete the video of the incident that had been posted on You-Tube and added, “Coach Sac knows about it. Seriously, delete it!”

During the trial it was learned that football Coach Reno Saccoccia knew about the sexual assault and refused to suspend the defendants or other players who had knowledge of the incident until the season was nearly over.

As I watched the case unfold – and read the un-varnished blog by former Steubenville resident Alexandra Goddard who had immediately captured the offending texts, video and pictures before they were deleted — I couldn’t stop thinking:  Where was everyone else as this crime was happening?

As this young girl was being humiliated and brutalized, stripped of her clothing and carried around like a rag doll, what were her classmates doing?  Why didn’t anyone step in to say, “Stop!”

Didn’t other girls at the event feel her shame and move to help cover up her nakedness?  Where was the homeowner of the house where the party was being held?  What had the parents of these teenagers taught their children about coming to the aid of a fellow human being in trouble?

Victim Carried By Defendants From Home to Home

None of my questions were part of the court proceedings, of course, but as Mike DeWine the Attorney General of Ohio said upon the conviction, “I’ll guarantee that there are crimes very similar to this that occur every Friday night and every Saturday night in communities across this country where you have people, particularly young people, who are drinking too much and a girl is taken advantage of, and a girl is raped.”

DeWine is right.  It is surely happening in your community and mine too.

Yet DeWine believes that justice may not have been completely served in the Steubenville case.  His investigators interviewed 56 witnesses – from teenagers who attended the party to assistant football coaches and the high school principal – yet there were still 16 people with knowledge of the crime who have refused to talk.  So, DeWine will convene a Grand Jury next month to determine whether other people should also be charged in this case.

Leave it alone, you say? The conviction of Mays and Richmond is enough?  I don’t think so.

Mass Protests Outside Jefferson County Court

Consider that even after the guilty verdicts some in that football crazed town were still not convinced the pair had done anything wrong and they turned their wrath on the victim.  After the guilty verdicts were announced two teenage girls were taken into custody for allegedly using Twitter and Facebook posts to threaten her with a “beating” and “homicide.” They now face felony counts of witness tampering among other charges.  After the girls arrest A.G. DeWine announced, “Let me be clear.  Threatening a teenage rape victim will not be tolerated. If anyone makes a threat … we will take it seriously, we will find you and we will arrest you.”

Blogger Goddard reports she and her family continued to be harassed and maligned. She also had to fight back a defamation lawsuit filed against her and two dozen people who left comments on the case at her web site.

“Perhaps most ridiculously,” she wrote, “I was accused of ‘complicating’ the case because I posted the screen captures of content that these kids willingly posted themselves.”  Clearly, not all of Steubenville has learned the obvious lesson of this case.

Blogger Alexandra Goddard

In the meantime, the victim’s mother told CNN, “We hope that from this something good can arise … (to) possibly change the mentality of a youth or help a parent to have more of an awareness (as) to where their children are and what they are doing. The adults need to take responsibility and guide these children.”

Yep. This is one of those teachable moments, the perfect time for folks to sit down with their kids and have a serious talk about the issues this case raised.  Drinking and drugs, athlete adoration, teen age sex and doing unto others as we would need them to do for us if we were in trouble.

It is also a good time for parents to re-examine where the circle of accountability begins and ends when one of our children is so publicly victimized.



{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

ABQ Journal Reader Kevin McKeown writes:

“Dear Diane:
Yeah, I couldn’t have been more burned up as I watched 20/20 last night. Cowards everywhere. Senseless children clueless to what is right and wrong. Sociopaths.
Ever wonder how NAZI Germany functioned??? Steubenville.
Okay, first, summarily fire coach Sac. No explanations from him. I don’t want to hear his excuses. This pathetic piece of garbage for an adult needs to be removed from contact with children forever.
Next, 25 or thirty of the youths involved need to be dragged into the court system, and charged. They knew better. Even if not convicted of anything, they need their lives (temporarily) destroyed. Kick them out of school- I wouldn’t want them around my kids. Kick them off teams. No scholarships, Police records. Look, I’m serious about this. Next, 50 or 60 adults (how about all of Steubenville) need to be arrested for child neglect and abuse and parental malfeasance.
If I’m ever headed towards Steubenville, I’m finding another route.
In a larger view, this garbage happens literally in every town in America once a week.. I tutor young people and it’s not like it once was. Parents literally have no control over what is placed in a child’ head. One mother of a child I’ve tutored tells me that her son will call police if she tries to discipline him- like trying to get him to stop online video games (5 to 7 hours a day). I’ve worked with kids who have no moral sense what so ever. These kids scare me- and I drop them ASAP. Their narcissistic world is centered around their socal media, their schoolmates, activities etc, and otherwise just feeling good. They have no clue about what life is. These children are arrogant, senseless sociopaths w/o compassion, and caring.
I went to New Castle Utah, to observe the solar eclipse last May. This is a very self sufficient Mormon community. The people and children there were so wonderful it was a breath of fresh air. The children of Mr. Jeff Gardner were so interested in what I was doing it was amazing. They served me dinner, and took notes. It seemed totally unreal, like a dream, to be around people that were so kind and helpful. No snottiness, or griping when their mother asked them to help me out with my very large coronagraph telescope!!! A breath of fresh air.
Please pass this on to everyone you know in Steubenville. Shame on that community. It’s raining animals. not human beings.


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 10:54 am

ABQ Journal Reader Michael Turri writes:

“My wife and I fortunately live sort of “off-the-grid” here in northern New Mexico. By sort of I mean we have no TV, limited Internet with our iPhones and sparse radio news. We live in what we consider to be paradise; free of the constant day to day noise. Today we were in town (Angel Fire) and got the Albuquerque paper. After reading your article, I felt sick. I had not really heard much on the incident but your article put it into very harsh focus! We have two sons whom we raised with a not very popular concept of tough love. We were their parents first then maybe their friends. But they grew up understanding the difference between right and wrong and there was and is no grey area in that regard. I feel very confident that with that instilled in them, if they would have witnessed something as horrible as what happened at Steubenville, they would have stepped in. Now they both have kids. I hope they too act as parents first and teach their children the difference between right and wrong and what is moral. I hope your article makes a difference, a difference for ONE person who will help to do what is morally right.


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

Noozhawk Reader Georgesands writes:

“This case is so much more than two young men raping a girl from across the river (not a classmate). It’s about how people like Goddard and Anonymous coming forward to help and put the case in the spotlight so it wouldn’t be ignored, can make a difference. More young girls are coming forward, rumor is another girl who was a victim of this same group.
There are a lot of horrific details everyone keeps forgetting, like the fact they called themselves the “rape crew.”
The same thing is going on in the US military. The sexual assault rate in the US military is worse than that of the rape capital of the world in Africa. And that’s not counting women outside of the military raped by them.
If your own military has an epic problem with rape, and they are supposed to be protecting us, what do we expect from the rest of the country?
The problem is DA offices in San Diego and LA are ignoring rape cases and reports all the time.”



Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

ABQ Journal Reader Franklin Schargel writes:

“Ms. Dimond:

Thank you for the brilliant, incisive article that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Saturday, March 23rd. I appreciated your comments and wished that people in Steubenville and the rest of the country felt the same.

Franklin Schargel”


bcr8tive March 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Hi Diane,

Reading this made me nauseous. Truly. It makes me so sad to know that as far as we have come over the centuries, we haven’t come far at all. We can see what is wrong, archaic, barbaric about OTHER cultures – yet WE still live in a society that has so many people in it that lack real values or regard for life – human or beast.

People do vile things to others – things they don’t seem to ask themselves if they would want done to them. Even convicted serial murderers, want the death penalty taken off THEIR table – after they’ve killed countless others.

All too often, hearing / reading the things like this that go on – makes me wonder if “an eye for an eye” wouldn’t be the better “justice” or “lesson” – and I think that ANYONE that was aware of this – should ALSO be liable – not just the 2 boys.

How about ummmm we get 2 big bruiser guys from Maximum Security – and let them have some “alone time” with these boys – and also video tape it – then publish it on the internet and add to that – “well they deserved it”.


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Facebook Friend Tom Hogan writes:

” One word – parents.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Facebook Friend Pat Melchionno writes:

“Well I think their recent conviction sent a LOUD message but it’s encumbered upon us to keep that message loud and clear! Good for you DD in keeping this story on the top burner!”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Facebook Friend Tammy Morris Prather writes:

“Exactly. no one is raising this generation.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Facebook Friend Madeline Michele Hovey writes:

“This is just to sad…no one helped..unreal…”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Facebook Friend Sergio Lebid writes:

“Cowards with no sense of dignity and respect to do the right deed of stopping such horrible abuse!”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Facebook Friend Nancy Kiley Erickson-Flake writes:

“Not all girls/women are emotionally able to go through this event. It’s sometimes worse than the crime itself. That needs to change.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Facebook Friend Anne Kullaf writes:

“I find this appalling! I have a sixteen year old daughter, I pay close attention to where she goes and who her friends are, and I will say NO if there is any hint of alcohol being available or worse at any parties she wants to attend. I’m lucky, we talk a lot and she has good sense, she and her friends do not drink. What I don’t understand is how any parent can leave their kids unsupervised for an entire night at that age. Or worse, procure the alcohol for them. If for no other reason than the liability, it’s just a bad idea.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Facebook Friend Randall Eades writes:

“Nothing is wrong. We are acting as we are trained to act from birth. Go along to get along. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t go against the group. We’re are basically pack animals who follow the lead of the dominant personalities, who at the level of this particular case, are the sports stars. Sometimes this doesn’t work out so well, but most times its does, which is why we still do it.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Sergio Lebid Replies:

“Randall, that is obviously completely wrong to fit in to be a part of the pack. That is the wrong way to live and to raise children to behave like that. I thank God for my dear parents to have taught me to do the right deed no matter how contrary or unpopular it may be and go against peer pressure. My 3 sons also know right from wrong and are not bystanders and do not ignore bad actions from bullies against people or animals.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Facebook Friend Kim Winton writes:

“What’s wrong, in my opinion, is the the kids nowadays are losing their morals. Why? I don’t know. It’s happening more often, which bothers me greatly. Our children must be taught better values, and to stand out among the others to not allow such behavior. It’s a never ending cycle that has to be broken or we, as a whole, will endure the downfall of those actions.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Facebook Friend Andrew Richter writes:

“Whenever I see something suggesting that it’s about modern society or whatever, I really get frustrated. Just about every measure of “morals” or “values” is better now than a generation ago, and way better than two generations ago. Teen pregnancy down. Teen drug use down. Crime rates down.

And in case you think this is a new phenomenon, let me remind of this 24-year-old nugget: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Ridge_rape


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Facebook Friend Danielle Stewart writes:

“Lack of respect and accountability. Glad the boys did not get away with it. We need stronger judges in this country and more people to stand up.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Facebook Friend Alexandrea Merrell · Friends with Willie Lawson
1. We still have a blame the victim mentality. “What was she wearing? Why was she drunk? She acts like a slut…etc.

2. We still have a “well its no big deal” mentality. “It’s not like she was a virgin.”

3. We still have a “are you sure you were raped?” mentality. “It was probably consentual and then she changed her mind after.” “She just wanted to trap the guy and get him in trouble.”

4. We still have a “boys will be boys” mentality. “The boys lives will be ruined if they are charged with rape!” “She wanted it and boys were just going along with it.” “We can’t give them a criminal record…it will destroy their lives.”

5. We still have a “I want to be a cool parent” mentality. “I want my kids to like me and think Im cool, so I don’t correct bad behavior or teach basic respect.”

6. We still have a “I want my son to be a “”winner”” mentality. “Winners are takers!” “Winners take what they want and don’t care about other people.”

7. We still have a “no one will want a damaged girl” mentality. “No “”nice boy”” would marry a girl who had been raped, so keep it to yourself.” “He is so popular, rich, powerful, etc…no one will believe you.” “You can’t tell anyone, it would bring shame to your family.”

8. We still have “trophy wife” mentality. “Successful men want a woman who looks pretty and vacant and preforms like a porn star in bed.” “If you want to catch a wealthy or successful or popular guy, you have to look and act like a Playmate.”

9. We still have a “fun girls get drunk and take their tops off” mentality. “Hey we SHOULD be able to walk naked down the street and not worry about being assaulted.” “Hey we SHOULD be able to get drunk and pass out at a party.” “Spring break and girls gone wild are great!”

This problem is not new, it isn’t just about parents, it isn’t just about moral values. It isn’t just about law enforcement. It isn’t just about how society views men and women. There have always been and will always be people with no moral center, people with alcohol induced poor judgement, people who fall victim to mob mentality, and sometimes just bad people.

This situation will not change until real, public, condemnation comes down in every small town and big city in America. It will not change until rape is removed as a stigma to the victim and is instead a branding on the perpetrator. It will not change until the first thing that people think isn’t “Why was she dressed like that” or “well she was a slut.”

Until that day, women who continue to believe that what they SHOULD be able to do (dress in an overtly sexual way, get drunk, act “easy”) equals what they “CAN” do will will be victims. Right doesn’t gives people a pass on being responsible for their safety.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Facebook Friend Ed Schiappa writes:

“Sad to say, morality doesn’t seem to count anymore and like Danielle says, lack of respect and accountability seem to feed this culture and I agree with Alexandrea there is still a strong attitude of it’s no big deal and more people need to stand up.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Facebook Friend Jackie Morin writes:

“It’s disgusting & a disgrace. The milk of human kindness has dried right up. It’s more important to a teen to fit in than to be humane. Kids live what the learn! Blimey!”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Facebook Friend Emily Antonelli writes:

“You ask, “What’s wrong with us?”
1. We’ve successfully banished our Judeo-Christian values from the public square and public discourse.
2. We’ve replaced shame with fame without shame. (Just look at the Kardashians, Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives of _____)
3. We deride personal responsibility and make everyone a victim of something.
4. The media refuses to identify evil in our society except in rare cases (Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias) and then they pile on.
5. There is no civil political discourse without name calling.
6. Athletes are “entitled” from a young age so no one ever tells them no.
7. The government consumes so much of the financial resources that in two parent families both parents must work therefore spending precious little time raising our children.
8. Out of wedlock births, single parent homes and alternative “family units’ are becoming the new normal.
9. Values (which should start in the home) are not reinforced in the schools lest we offend someone.
10. Parents are under so much stress, it’s just easier to tell a child to go watch TV or play with their technology than to say let’s paint a picture of fly a kite together.
I could go on but bottom line, we are raising a generation of self-absorbed narcissists and there have been studies that prove it.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Facebook Friend Sam Somwaru writes:

“I say blame TV….the crap they show on TV it’s no wonder shit like this happens all the time!!”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Twitter pal Dorothy Baker ?writes:

“@DiDimond I believe that unfortunately, these guys cared more about their football than another human being!”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Twitter pal Marian DeRossett writes:

” @DiDimond Something is wrong for sure almost like they are enjoying this and think it is funny.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Twitter Pal Bluznshuz/Brandy writes:

” @DiDimond Parents aren’t teaching kids to respect and value life.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Twitter Pal Matt Maggio ?writes:

” @Steubenville area is the kind of place where high school football is king – unreal.”


Diane Dimond March 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Twitter Pal * hei$er$tyle* ?writes:

“@DiDimond it’s sad that she more than likely considered some to be FRIENds at that time! She now knows better. Its truly sad.”


CLS April 2, 2013 at 4:21 am

I have been so aghast and stunned by what happened, it has taken time to process the horror and violation of that child. The football coach knew about it and did nothing? Death threats to the victim? A defamation lawsuit against a blogger who told and showed the truth? As advanced as human are, I often believe we really haven’t evolved past the caveman mentality.


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