The Steubenville rape case, in which two high school football players allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl in rural Ohio, has received increasingly bad publicity, thanks largely to Internet activists.
Shortly after the alleged rape last fall, students began posting pictures from the night of the alleged incident on social media. A local crime blogger and other observers have accused police and politicians in Steubenville of being controlled by the football program, reports CBS News.
Then on Jan. 1, a group of hackers released a video that reportedly shows a former Steubenville student laughing about the incident with friends. Now the city is fighting back to protect its reputation.
To combat all the bad publicity, the City of Steubenville and the Steubenville Police Department have created a new website for the case. The goal is to provide accurate information to counter rumors and online speculation.
Notably, the city claims that Steubenville High School's "Big Red" sports program is not the big player in local politics that it's rumored to be, reports CBS News. The police department isn't closely tied to the high school football program either, as only a few officers even attended local schools.
It is true that a special prosecutor and an independent judge have been assigned to the case. But that seems to indicate transparency and fairness rather than favoritism.
In the legal world, it's against the rules of ethics for a lawyer or judge to appear in a case in which they know the people involved or there is another conflict of interest. Yes, lawyers do have a code of ethics that is enforced.
In this case, local authorities knew people involved with the football team, reports the Associated Press. Presumably the people local authorities knew are involved in the case.
The city hopes the new website will sort out the facts from the hype that now surrounds the case. Whether protesters agree is another matter.
Regardless of the city's reputation, the cases against the Steubenville football players are going forward; their names are being withheld because of their age. The boys are set to be tried in a juvenile court in February.
- Attorney for teen says online video 'disgusting' but not criminal (Steubenville, Ohio's WTOV-TV)
- Juvenile Justice (FindLaw)
- Gang Rape of Girl, 11, Recorded on Cell Phones (FindLaw's Blotter)
- High School Kid, 17, Busted in $3M Pot Ring (FindLaw's Blotter)