So, today I’m going to talk about my hometown, where I still have many family and friends.
Unfortunately, my hometown has recently been all over the news for all the wrong reasons. Steubenville, OH is the scene of the high-profile alleged rape involving members of the town’s popular high-school football team.
Needless to say, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for Steubenville. It all stems, from an August incident where a 16-year-old girl – allegedly incapacitated at a party – was allegedly raped twice, dragged naked and unconscious – between several locations.
After the girl and her mother later pieced together what they believe happened, they filed a complaint with the police. Rape charges were filed ten days later against two football players.
In early January, a 12-minute YouTube video was posted by the hacker group Anonymous showing another student laughing and making damning statements about the alleged victim and rape…and it went viral
For those who have seen this video, you already know how disgusting it is- no gray area, it was simply despicable.
That said, #1: As a lawyer, no matter how it appears right now because of initial reports or repulsive YouTube videos, it’s my duty to say ‘allow the law to take its course…’ and while I certainly recognize that sensitive situations like this can be mishandled by law enforcement and court officials –especially those with biased or political motives –
Steubenville officials will be held accountable if their actions corrupt the process, especially with the nation’s eyes on Steubenville, justice will be done.
#2: While we all have a right to be upset about the disgusting alleged actions involving some members of Big Red’s football team and the alleged victim, creating a ‘witch hunt’ atmosphere where all Steubenville residents are demonized by association is insanity.
And finally, though social media is an important part of the high-tech, low-privacy age we live in, social media is not our legal system. It can certainly impact our system of justice, but it’s not judge and jury, and verdicts should not be rendered in cyberspace or on YouTube.
So let’s keep our eyes on this troubling case and push for justice to prevail, but let’s not indict an entire town –a town I happen to know and love –for the alleged actions of a few, or for what some believe are its systemic problems because if your neighbor was accused of doing something horrible, you certainly wouldn’t want a nation of folks condemning you, your family, friends, school and hometown just because they lived close to you.
I’ll end with these fitting words from Eleanor Roosevelt who well knew that for the legal process to truly work, it should never be a one–way street:
“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”