The rape trial of two high school football players started today in a tiny Ohio town that idolizes the sport and the teenage boys who play it.
The Steubenville, Ohio rape case has captured national attention because of highly disturbing photos and video of the alleged assault posted online.
Steubenville is also being portrayed as a town that glorifies its football players so much that it failed to prosecute some players who may have been involved in the alleged rape.
Steubenville High School football players Trenton Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond,16, are accused of driving a drunk 16-year-old girl from party to party in August and treating her "like a toy," a prosecutor told a court today.
The allegations are horrifying and seem to implicate more than just Richmond and Mays. At one party, a Steubenville High baseball player allegedly dared bystanders to urinate on the girl, The New York Times has reported, citing testimony from Steubenville High athletes given to a court in October. Mays also allegedly penetrated the girl with his fingers while another football player taped him on his phone.
The next day, rumors began flying on Twitter that something very bad at happened that night. One football player posted a photo on Instagram showing a passed-out girl being carried by her hands and her legs.
Crime blogger Alexandria Goddard began preserving online messages about the alleged assault because she feared it wouldn't be investigated, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
This was one of the more disturbing Tweets she preserved: "The song of the night is 'Rape Me' by Nirvana."
Mays and Richmond were charged with rape and kidnapping in September, and the allegations against the team continued to play out on social media as trial preparations began.
In January, hactivist group KnightSec released a video showing a football player (not Mays or Richmond) joking about the assault as it was apparently taking place nearby.
"They raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team," he joked.
Days after that video was released, Sheriff Fred Abdalla, who presides over Steubenville, told 1,000 protesters in front of the county's courthouse that the person speaking on that video wouldn't be charged with a crime, Reuters reported.
He drew the protesters' ire by saying "you can't arrest somebody for being stupid."
The same week, the city of 18,000 took the unusual step of starting its own website to fight the notion that the "football team runs the city," the city manager told the AP.
Mays and Richmond are being tried in a juvenile court, the Cleveland Plain Dealer Reports, and a judge will decide their fate instead of a jury.
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