In A Courtroom In Steubenville, The Tears Of A Rapist Came A Little Too Late

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 11.31.58 AMAs the verdict came down, I watched an obviously distressed Trent Mays weep into a tissue. Call me a hard bitch, but it made my morning.

Where were the tears for the victim? Where were the apologies for all of the horrific things she endured? The timing of the breakdown proves that these boys are weeping for loss of freedom and for the validation that they are, in fact, sex offenders. Is there any remorse here?

I feel a hell of a lot of remorse today. I feel remorse that even when a victim is unconscious, she has to prove that she didn’t want it. That she wasn’t asking for it. This verdict is a huge victory for victims, but it doesn’t change the fact that if this identical situation happened next week, we would again be sifting through months of coverage of friends speaking on the victim’s character and of people speculating on how much she had to drink. Because, even if a woman is totally not conscious, she obviously deserves some of the blame for trusting that her schoolmates wouldn’t drag her unresponsive body around town while everyone watched, laughed, and judged her.

Moments after the verdict came down, I took to Twitter to express my relief. This is one of the first responses I got: “Why is her being drunk veto her consent yet they were drunk and are being held to their actions?” This was from a woman. I feel remorse today because we still have to explain that any number of actions leading up to a woman being raped aren’t “criminal.” Getting drunk is not a crime. Flirting is not a crime. Wearing something that someone perceives as suggestive is not a crime. Taking ownership over someone else’s body is. Rape is a crime. Why, in 2013, do I have to explain this? What is unclear about this?

Is it because we are so used to seeing women blamed for their own rapes that we have become immune to it? Is it because rape is the only crime where victims are guilty until proven innocent? Can you imagine someone who had their house burglarized being put on the stand and forced to explain why their windows were open? No, you can’t. Because it’s ridiculous. Questioning a rape victim’s character is ridiculous. But it’s something we’ve all been conditioned to expect.

So excuse me for smiling when I saw a rapist weep today. The only thing I can do in this culture of crazy is to stand firm in my beliefs that she didn’t deserve this, she wasn’t asking for it, and someone absolutely deserves to be punished. I’ll smile smugly in the face of any convicted rapist.

It’s all I got.

(photo: wtov.9)


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  • Justme

    I’m not going to be popular for this statement and it probably won’t come out just how I mean it, but here is my try…

    These boys screwed up in a way that will have an impact on themselves, their future, the community and most importantly…the victim. What they did was not only awful the first time around, but then to post it, send it and mock it digitally was a further assault on the victim. I absolutely want these boys to take responsibility for their actions and to be disciplined appropriately.

    But. I refuse to find joy in their sorrow and in their tears. This situation is shitty from every viewpoint. From the victim and the physical, emotional and psychological ramifications she will face in her future to the community who has appeared, by all accounts, to be protecting these boys in their unlawful actions. I feel sorrow that there is a culture in this town (and I assume elsewhere as well) that feels that the victim brought this upon herself, and that the boys were just being boys.

    So take that for what you will. It’s not condoning their behavior to not find joy in their pain. It’s just looking at ALL the suffering in this case and my heart breaks for all the young people and their community because the trajectory of several lives has been altered because of a few boys who made VERY bad decisions.

    I truly pray that these boys (and the community at large) will be forced to reexamine their views on relationships, consent, high school sports, loyalty….and yes, teenage partying and the role that technology can play in our lives.

    And for that young lady….I fear for the repercussions she might face now that these boys have been found guilty. If she were my daughter, I’m not sure what I would do – stay in town and hold your head up high or move away and start fresh.

    • Kathleen Matthews Schmidt

      Well said.

    • Andrea

      I’d move away. There is NO way that girl will be treated with anything but contempt and/or pity in that town. They will either feel sorry for her, or slut-shame her, or hate for “ruining the team”.

      I’d move somewhere else and possibly change my name.

    • Justme

      I can see both sides of the coin – part of me would want to show the town that we’re not cowards who run away and hide….but on the other hand, would I want to allow my daughter to go through further shame, humiliation and punishment from her peers? Tough decision.

    • Victoria

      Definitely move away. These were school friends that she trusted. She needs a new start.
      But also, I have to disagree that these boys behaved in a way that will impact them. Their sentence was a year. In Juvie. Then their records will be sealed and by the time they are ready to move on, it’s likely that they’ll be able to do that with no consequences.

    • Justme

      I was under the impression that they will be marked as sex offenders for the rest of their lives? Surely that will impact their future. And then there’s always the chance that they realize the full magnitude of their actions and how their choices negatively affected another person’s life. Maybe they’ll try to make up for the damage they have inflicted and become an outspoken advocate against violence and rape. Or maybe they will drown in a self-loathing pit of despair and become an alcoholic or drug addict.

      Maybe I have a super active imagination.

      But in all seriousness, although the outside world will keep on turning, those boys will never be able to fully shed this incident, whether it be externally or internally.

    • Victoria

      Since they were tried as juveniles, it is my understanding that their criminal records will be sealed when they reach their majority. I agree that it’s possible that they will come to have compassion and grief for what they did to this girl..I hope so. It would keep them from re-offending later, in college. But since they have been protected, pampered, glorified Golden Boys for most of their lives, I think this fall from grace will be a shock. After thinking about it, I agree it will change them whether society forgets this whole sordid affair in a few years or not.

    • chickadee

      Oh good. Let me go alter my earlier post.

    • Blueathena623

      While it may not have to do with legal records, the very medium they used to document their crimes will make sure they are never without consequences. The Internet (and all its articles) is forever . . .

    • Victoria

      I’m starting to feel a little better about the slap on the wrists they received legally, if there are more far-reaching repercussions for them socially.

  • Blueathena623

    Really? Why does her veto of being drunk count and the boy’s not? Um, she was drunk to the point of being unconscious, and they were drunk to the point where they could still do things, horrible, vicious things that required pretty decent coordination. Out of curiosity, did you respond to her tweet?
    And has she never experienced any different levels of drunk? I’ve been passed out drunk, toilet-bowl hugging drunk, stumbling into walls drunk, thinking I’m whispering but not really drunk, laughing at things that are only kinda funny drunk, and taking the edge off of life drunk.

    • Andrea

      Because being passed out is not a crime. Neither is it an invitation. Raping someone is a crime.

      If they would have killed her or an innocent kid playing in his yard because they decided to get in the car and drive drunk, would you be saying the same thing?

    • Andrea

      I’m SORRY. I TOTALLY and COMPLETELY did not read what you posted the right way. Please ignore my other post. My apologies

    • Blueathena623

      No problem :)

  • Xander Harris

    PLEASE, please, please, please, please, please, I’m hoping that the victims parents turn around and sue ALL the kids, not just the 2 found guilty, in civil court. Please.

    • Victoria

      Many of those involved gave testimony against the two boys in exchange for immunity from being held responsible. But I think the coach is definitely guilty as sin, and possibly some of the law enforcement there who gave the offenders a precious few days before acting on the information they had (which gave the kids time to delete as much as they could of the more incriminating texts, posts and pics.)

  • Hannah Thomas

    The woman that responded to you …does she realize the child was unconscious? What a dumb comment. Sadly, the victim found out there are monsters out there wanting to take advantage of things when they know you are too drunk to stop them. She is going to live with that consequence for the rest of her life. I don’t understand why people don’t feel that is also punishment, since they seem to feel she off easy. Its a personal hell she has to live with. I’m sad that all these children didn’t have adults in their lifes that could strongly impact their decision making skills. I see no winners here at all. Its heart breaking at every angle. The attitudes, the entitlement, the victim blaming…all of it. I pray some youth do learn something from it.

  • chickadee

    Those tears are the same tears that a child cries when he gets punished. And the sentence honestly makes me very angry. One year for Richmond, two for Hayes. That girl is going to need more than two years to recover from this, while the rapists’ records will be expunged when they are 18.

    Now, let’s talk about the assistant coach and his job…..

    • Cee

      Yes! The coach is one disgusting human being. How can he protect them for the sake of his stupid team? I fucking hate that people try to slightly defend the town by saying “well football is all they got.” A reputation of being victim blaming rapist defenders for the sake of a guy that can throw a ball is now all you got. A coach is someone that should guide his students to do the right thing. As someone in education, I have witnessed the power of a coach over young men, and it should be used to guide them. What an asshole.

    • jessica

      What about the assistant coach! Don’t even get me started! I just want to shake that guy so hard. Maybe knee him in the balls too. So you, adult man, come home and find a group of kids abusing a girl in your house and you don’t like it so you kick them out but you let them carry her off with them??? What??

    • romylove

      I actually read on a Yahoo article that they will still have to register as sex offenders for life.

  • whiteroses

    There’s a distinct difference between being drunk and being unconscious. Just sayin’.

    • Andrea

      Neither one is a crime or an invitation to be raped.

    • Justme

      I think what Whiteroses is trying to say….is that the boys, while drunk, still had their wits about them – enough to digitally record their assault on this young woman, while the woman was unconscious, thus unable to respond or make a declaration regarding what she did or didn’t want to have happen.

    • whiteroses

      Yes, this. My apologies if it was taken any other way. I would never want to suggest or imply that I thought for a moment this was deserved. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    • Blooming_Babies

      This form of communication is without context, it’s so refreshing to see an apology offered and accepted.

  • Amy

    “Call me a hard bitch, but it made my morning.” I laughed outloud at that one.
    Also, I agree with everyone you’ve said about this case, thanks for the articles.

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  • emma7926

    He wasn’t crying any when he bragged about what he did. I hope his parents understand what they have unleashed in this world.