Ohio Town Defends Football Stars After They Raped Unconscious Woman

In towns like Steubenville, Ohio pride in the hometown football team has become an outlet for economic frustrations that come with a fleeing industrial sector and stagnant economy. But what happens when an economically depressed community creates heroes out of teenage boy athletes and endows them with the belief that they are the saviors of the town?

Those boys learn to believe they can rape without consequence.

As the New York Times reports, an evening that was supposed to celebrate summer and usher in a new school year took a dark turn as two members of the football team raped a young woman while she was blacked out from drinking too much alcohol. Her assault, along with the rapists commentary, was documented by the boys on their camera phones and quickly shared online. As reported by the Times:

In one photograph posted on Instagram by a Steubenville High football player, the girl, who was from across the Ohio River in Weirton, W.Va., is shown looking unresponsive as two boys carry her by her wrists and ankles. Twitter users wrote the words “rape” and “drunk girl” in their posts.


The New York Times reports the case is “tearing the community apart,” and given the accounts of the evening it is easy to see why. The problem is, the case has divided the community for all the wrong reasons. As has become all too common, rather than express outrage at the way two young men took unconscionable advantage of a young girl, the town quickly came to the boys’ defense, blaming the girl for her own attack in a way that has managed to combine the worst elements of slut-shaming and misdirected economic rage.

The case still must head to trial, but it appears that the same social media that spread reports of the initial crime and has contributed to the victim-blaming in this case may ultimately be what helps bring justice and take a whack at the pernicious misogyny informing the culture as well as the crime. Alexandria Goddard, a local blogger, covered the story as it unfolded and refused to let the crime go unanswered. And while it’s impossible to say whether Goddard’s coverage resulted in two players being charged in the case (a rarity in these kinds of stories), Goddard is also facing a lawsuit by a Steubenville player and his parents for defamation. So it sounds like she hit a nerve.

High school football programs in communities like Steubenville are in many ways the conduit for patriarchy to pass from generation to generation. They depend on notions of masculinity that have become inextricably fused with sexuality and violence.  Those beliefs inevitably get acted out in gruesome fashion on young women’s bodies. Hopefully, thanks in no small part to gutsy work by Goddard, this tradition can get relegated to the dustbin as well.


Related Stories:

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Do “Nice Guys” Contribute to Rape Culture?

What the Jamie Leigh Jones Verdict Says About Rape Culture


Photo from Ed Yourdon via flickr.


David D.
Past Member 2 years ago

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Chris G.
.3 years ago

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Mark Alan Dellavecchia

As much as Christians, and others, like to bring up the gang-rape Sodom & Gomorrah tale in Genesis 19 as an indictment against homosexuality, (While completely ignoring the ramifications of the "What would have happened if the men of the towns had accepted and raped Lot's daughters?" question.) they do so while ignoring the parallel heterosexual gang-rape scenario in Judges 19 & 20 in which a Levite turns his concubine over to the "wicked men of the city (Gibeah)" who rape and abuse her until morning when she dies of her inflicted injuries. In the first story, God destroys the cities for their wickedness. In the second, the eleven tribes of Israel decimates the tribe of Benjamin for its wickedness.

GOD DOES NOT CONDONE GANG-RAPE CULTURE, and neither does His true followers who place morality before football.

In both of the Biblical scenarios, the societies and cultures had become so corrupted and accepting of Rape Culture, "Divine Intervention" was required. Judging by Steubenville and here, and the youth society and culture's use of social media to glorify gang-rape shows a similar level of moral decadence and corruption. It will not be homosexuality (The Gay Agenda) per se that leads to America's downfall: it will be the lack of conscience and morality in the succeeding generation.

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man (culture/society) reaps what he sows." Galatians 6:7

Clark D.
Clark Daniels5 years ago

The USA is what it is, no shining light, for sure

Fi T.
Past Member 5 years ago

Why is it?

Bill C.
Bill C5 years ago

Both "boys" were just convicted of RAPE

Yea those who have so little faith in our system of justice, those who bark and bark and bark with no purpose, now what?

The law gifted justice, a horror that hapened to a child of 16 will never change and there is no positive except the justice so many doubted would happen.

Have a little faith people, the world is spinning down the drain with generalization

Dale O.

Appalling, the old boys' network at work...or in this case the young boys' network where in effect the justification of criminal actions to blame the victim is used to excuse behaviour that is criminal and reprehensible.

Defending this action gives the entire town an uncivilized and barbaric reputation. Be 'proud', Steubenville, Ohio. What next...the entire football team raping a woman who is developmentally challenged because she can't say no either? Perhaps the football team's new uniform should have 'We Rape' as their logo.

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago


Laura Townsend
Laura Townsend5 years ago

We've gone too far in glorifying sports and putting too much importance on them. This type of behavior is a consequence of it, the athletes think they are above the law. Sadly many of those that support the athletes believe the same thing. I have a friend who is a prof at a noted university. She was beaten almost to death by a 'star' athlete when she refused to change his failing grade. He'd made no effort to do anything in class and failed his tests. The university did nothing to back her up. Apparent;y the athlete was more important.

Robin Evans
Robin Evans5 years ago

This sickening behaviour should be punished, and severely enough to be a very strong deterrent.