DeWine: Threats against Steubenville rape victim must stop

A girl who was raped by two high school football players is being victimized by threats against her on Twitter, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday as he demanded an end to such postings.
Associated Press
Mar 20, 2013

 

Two girls, 15 and 16, were accused of posting the tweets Sunday following the conviction and sentencing of two boys for raping the 16-year-old West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party.

The older girl was charged with aggravated menacing for a tweet that threatened homicide and said "you ripped my family apart," according to the attorney general's office. The girl is a cousin of defendant Ma'Lik Richmond, attorney general spokesman Dan Tierney said.

A Twitter message from the younger girl threatened the accuser with bodily harm, leading to a menacing charge, DeWine's office said. One of the messages was later reposted on Facebook.

Such threats have to end, DeWine said.

"People have the right to express their point of view, and they have the right to be stupid, and they have the right to be wrong, but they don't have the right under Ohio law to threaten to kill someone," he said.

This is not the first time the girl and her family have been threatened through social media, DeWine said.

"What's sad particularly to me is that the victim has had to go through the rape, the aftermath of the rape, the trial, and she continues to be victimized on the social media," he said.

The girl, who had been drinking heavily, has no memory of the attack. One of the ways she learned that something had happened to her was by viewing parts of a 12-minute YouTube video filmed the night of the attack in which students made crude jokes about her.

The two girls were charged Tuesday with intimidation of a victim, telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing. They were being held in the Jefferson County juvenile detention center without bond, as is customary with juveniles, said Jefferson County assistant prosecutor Sam Pate.

They would face up to six years in prison if convicted as adults, but it's likely they would be treated as juveniles. That means they could be detained up until their 21st birthdays, if convicted.

The rape case brought international attention to the small city of 18,000 and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the Steubenville High School football team.

Richmond and Trent Mays were charged with penetrating the West Virginia girl with their fingers, first in the back seat of a moving car after a mostly underage drinking party in August, and then in the basement of a house.

Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison for the rapes. Mays was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the underage girl naked.

They can be held until they turn 21.

Special Judge Thomas Lipps recommended the boys be assigned to Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in Chillicothe, which he said has a strong program for treating juvenile sex offenders.

The privately operated center is "staff-secure," according to the Department of Youth Services, meaning it's an open campus where staff members rely on their relationship with residents to prevent escapes.

Staff and children live together at the facility, which has shown success in keeping teens treated there from committing new crimes, said Renee Hagan, juvenile justice division director for Lighthouse Youth Services.

"We form good relationships with kids so they want to buy what we're selling," Hagan said Tuesday.

A grand jury will meet in April to consider charges against anyone who failed to speak up after the Aug. 11 attack. That group could include other teens, parents, school officials and coaches for the high school's beloved football team, which has won nine state championships.

 

Comments

Phil Packer

When I was 16 NOBODY and I mean NOBODY would have used anything called "Twitter." That's because it's as LAME as it sounds.

Cunning Linguist

The squares who didn't go to the sockhop would have used it.

Bluto

The problem with attacking others through the social media is that people think that it's ok to do so . Perhaps it is time to put some tougher laws in place that really impact the person doing the harassing . Laws that hurt them financially , and with real jail time . Maybe then people will think a little before saying something stupid .

SamAdams

Too late. Apparently there ARE laws that cover threats in Ohio, even if those threats are made via social media rather than other means. Else how did they manage to take the two girls into custody, eh?

And yes, I hope punishment is commensurate with the crime. I don't see that financial punishment beyond court costs is necessarily appropriate, but certainly the girls involved should have to go to some kind of "boot camp" where they're taught that opinions are entirely different from active threats!

BW1's picture
BW1

That law requires the threats to be credible and imminent. Ranting on a public medium is neither. Prosecuting these tweets walks a fine line with violating the First Amendment.

The Big Dog's back

What about her 1st Amendment rights?

SamAdams

The First Amendment applies here in exactly the same way as it does when you falsely yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Please note: It is NOT illegal to say there's a fire, and you won't be cited for doing so. No, you'll get in trouble instead for causing a panic or something similar.

The tweets are the same thing. I can call the victim stupid, ugly, or a liar all day long. But when I say I'm going to go out and KILL the stupid, ugly liar, while I won't be cited for my speech, I might very well be cited for harassment, threats, inducing panic, whatever.

You have the right to say anything you want anywhere you want to say it. What you may NOT have is any way to avoid the repercussions of certain things, whether they be considered threatening, slanderous, or something else.

(For those bleeding heart liberals here, know what ELSE you don't have a right to? You don't have the right to not be offended. I'm just pointing that out since some of you don't seem to know that that's something else that can't be found anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.)

BW1's picture
BW1

As is typical, Doggy is confused as to what the 1st Amendment means. Doggy, her 1st Amendment rights are not at issue here. No one is censoring her, and she's free to say what she likes.

Sam, it's amazing how often you hypocritically lurch into statism. This case is nothing like the yelling of fire in a theater, and it's ironic that you keep citing that old chestnut in ignorance of its origins. It was used by one of the most fascist justices our courts have ever seated in justifying the arrest of someone for speaking out against a war, and that ruling was overturned a few years later. Exceptions to 1st Amendment protection that have relevance here are incitement to IMMINENT lawless action, and making CREDIBLE, IMMINENT threats. There is no incitement, and rants on Twitter don't constitute imminent or credible threats to anyone with half a brain, any more than Alec Baldwin can be arrested for threatening Henry Hyde back in the 90's. Intemperate nonsense is the SOP at Twitter (as it is with Mr. Baldwin whenever he's not following a script.)

Why don't you, instead of quoting fascists and spouting nonsense, and hypocritically calling others bleeding heart liberals when you're acting like one yourself, actually support your assertions in a sound and rational manner - cite an instance of anyone making good on a Twitter threat like these. Maybe you should also consider that you're in total agreement with Big Dog, and if you don't nip it in the bud you might find yourself campaigning for Dennis Kucinich.

sash

Oliver Wendell Holmes a Fascist? Really? We'll skip that for now because there isn't room here for that debate. I'll just say I disagree. I would like to address your dismissal of "Twitter rants" however. Like it or not, Twitter and Facebook are today's equivalent of written letters. All rants are not created equal and it's ridiculous to dismiss them because they occur on Twitter or Facebook. There are many ways to rant that do not cross the line, however there is a line when the "rants" escalate from general threats to specific. "Someone should kill you", "I wish you were dead" and "you deserve to die" are nasty, but general threats that are protected speech. "I will kill you" is a specific and imminent threat, not simply a rant. If you received that threat in the mail, you would take it to the police expecting them to investigate it, not dismiss it as a harmless rant. "Will" in the threat makes all the difference as a matter of intent, and the only way to make it more credible or imminent would be if they included date, time and weapon of choice. Whether the threat is made in person, by mail, Twitter or Facebook makes no difference.

lugnut2511

I think Mr Dewine is doing a wonderful job. The girls mentioned in this seem to not realize, this wasn't the girls fault. Them boys knew better as shown in court. they have no respect for anyone except for themselves, what a shame. They have no ideal what this girl has lived with or what she has to live with the rest of her life. I'n very glad she doesn't atleast live there and have to deal with the towns ignorant people

transplant

Shut down her social media pages...problem solved. The haters might not say that stuff to her face. They are cowards. Nobody should have to endure threats on those sites. Just don't read them, shut them down. Or am I too logical?

Cowboy

Why shut down HER page? Problem NOT solved, that just forces them to hate another way! If they are that stupid, which I believe they are, they will continue to hate and probably end up in front of a judge.

tiptapmom

^ agreed, unfortunately this was bound to happen, kids these days are ruthless. As a parent I think I would have made my daughter delete her account, just to keep this sort of thing from happening, she has already suffered enough.

arnmcrmn

This is what happened when you have out of control kids and parents who aren't involved and give their kids way to much power to be in control of stuff that can damage them forever. When you post something on the Internet it becomes public and yes you can be charged for ones postings.

Dont Worry Be Happy

I do agree the boys were wrong and should be punished but I also believe this girl is not innocent. This was not her first time getting drunk she apparently has a drinking problem and should be sent to a rehab center herself. These parents need to keep better control of their children.

I know a lady that monitors her kids pretty good, alot more than most parents do, and takes them to church every Sunday, they are very active with the school, the kids do volunteering through the community etc, the oldest girl is on the school soccor team. All the girls are all spending the night at a friends house which is on the soccor team, when one of the girls says lets go out and TP some houses of kids in school they don't like, the mother tells them they can do it. Well the young lady I was talking about wouldn't go instead she called her mom to pick her up. Her mom then felt the need to report this. My point is the young lady was raised right and her mother did the right thing.

We don't hear alot of people doing the right thing any more. People do choose to ignore because they don't want to be bothered. Its really sad. I do hope all these kids, parents and kids all over see being stupid does not get you any where. Respect one another.

sash

Are you kidding me? Quit making excuses for rape! Quit blaming the victim! If she choose to march down the center of Main Street naked, it doesn't give ANYONE the right to rape her. Attitudes like yours are part of the reason why we have situations like this and why so many women don't report their assaults! Hate to break it to you sunshine, but "nice" girls are raped every day. Rapist see a woman as an object to be used. They don't give a d#mn if she goes to church! Inexcusable!

Dont Worry Be Happy

I don't have an attitude and know of a really nice gal that was drugged and raped and it breaks my heart everyday that she had to go through that horrible night.

All I stated was this young lady needs good help as well for her drinking problem, she did choose to stay with the boys while she could still talk etc, yet that does not give the boys the right to rape her. I stand by my statement that parents need to watch over their children more. I blame the parents more than anyone for not keeping an eye on their children. I don't make excuses I state the fact and more people need to be accountable for their actions. Children and parents.

Plus if it were my child threatening this young lady that was raped they wouldn't see day light for a very long time.

The part about church, my friend that was raped goes to church no that's not going to keep anyone from being raped, that comment was made to the fact the the lady was raising her child to have morals and to respect herself and others not to engage in bad things with the other girls, i was making the point that the young lady knew right from wrong because of her upbringing.

sash

Your first sentence revealed the attitude I took exception to when you stated that the girl was "not innocent." Yes she was. She was the victim. Should she, as a minor, have been drinking? No, of course not. But drinking with people you consider to be friends, people you trust, is not an invitation to be raped.

Rape is the only crime commited in our society where the victim is tried along with the assailants. Listen to a trial or read the social commentary in any rape case and the victim's every action is dissected to determine her culpability. She should have known better than to... walk down that street, drive down that rode, wear those shoes, wear that dress, dance that way, do her laundry at night, forget her burka, or drink with friends. Rape isn't lust gone mad. It is about contempt, power and subjugation. Would this girl's action be called into question if she had been murdered? Would people be looking for ways to shift the blame to her? I really doubt it.

If you doubt that we have a problem in our society with how we view rape, and the women who are usually the victims, then I ask you to imagine a different scenerio. Imagine that instead of Jane Doe being the victim, it was one of the football players. He was the one stripped naked, passed around like a piece of meat, urinated on,videotaped, photographed and raped. Would we be dissecting his behaviour and judging his innocence or culpability in the crime committed against him? Or would we simply be outraged and sickened by what was done to him?

MBR

Guess what-- teens go out; they socialize and yes, they even consume alcohol on occasion. The boys were drinking, too--does that mean they should have been "punished" by having others remove their clothing w/out their consent, have people stick their fingers inside of their body cavities, have other guys attempt to put their penises in their mouths, and have a group stand around them (while they are in their underwear b/c their clothing had already been removed w/out their consent) and offer to pay each other to urinate on the boys? B/c it sounds to me that what you are saying is that what happened to the victim is a fitting “punishment” for being young, going out with friends, and drinking (possibly roofied) alcohol. In which case, everyone there—including the boys—deserved the same treatment.

Or, is it possible that you are blaming the victim for not hiding herself away in a dungeon for her entire life when you SHOULD be blaming the boys for not understanding that RAPE is not acceptable? I can put it another way: Why were those boys even there? Where were their parents? If they would have stayed home and if they'ed been raised not to behave like entitled pigs, the girl would not have been raped and the lives of many would not have been destroyed that night.

What you are doing is yet another example of what is called victim blaming, another facet of rape culture. You are talking out of both sides of your mouth. You give lip service to this: "yet that does not give the boys the right to rape her," but then turn around and insinuate her responsibility in her rape, with this: "this young lady needs good help as well for her drinking problem, she did choose to stay with the boys while she could still talk etc."

Check out this video from yet another perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

luvblues2

Excellent response, MBR.

KURTje

Hey DeWine let M do it. See if you're gonna run the hole it needs to be backed up. Anyone threating harm needs justice. Punish the punks.

Informed

Don't Worry, I know plenty of church-going kids who do some pretty bad things.

MBR

A great infographic on rape culture: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.wear...