Dear Steubenville Police Department,
I understand that the residents of Steubenville are upset. The town has been under scrutiny since news of the high school rape case hit airwaves. They argue that coverage of the case has overshadowed the positive aspects of Steubenville. "It breeds negativity," they say.
Still others are...also upset. They claim that the storied high school football team influences law in Steubenville. They can't understand why coverage of the case is gaining traction in national news almost six months after it happened. They implore Sheriff Abdalla to apprehend others for the heinous crimes of that night.
And then there's us. The rest of the nation. Without a single idea of what Steubenville was before the news cameras, Guy Fawkes masks and Anonymous hackers who are being called vigilantes. Who are not biased by a football team...or privy to the historically preferential treatment of the football stars. We are the ones left in the dark. And now we too...are upset.
The facts are murky.
The suspicions run high.
And the actions of the police department, we question.
Therefore I am calling on the Steubenville Police Department and Jefferson County to adhere to these five demands for two reasons: create an environment where both suspects can be tried in a speedy and fair trial and bring justice and light to the events that transpired the evening of Aug. 11, 2012.
Be Transparent, Honest, And Lawful In The Dissemination Of Information To The Public
Yes, we know you launched the Steubenville Facts website with the sole purpose of sifting through the situation and laying our confirmed facts to the public about the case. But your timeline stops at Aug. 30. Details that are confirmed by news reports do not riddle the "press release"-like pages of the site. And though the last post dates Jan. 10, it's a link to a Time Magazine column titled "Don't Rush To Judge." It seems as if the site is more about preserving the gem that is Steubenville, than giving the public the real facts of the case. Who's running this shit? It reeks public affairs department. And you wonder why they scream of a police cover-up of the case.
Listen. We want the facts and we want them now. Like right now.
Cease All Behavior That Can Be Considered Preferential Treatment Of The Suspects And The Parties Involved
Ma'lik Richmond went on vacation for the New Year in sunny California. I didn't even go to California for New Year's and I'm not accused of raping a girl, wearing a GPS bracelet on my ankle and I'm not on house arrest. But Richmond is. Because his legal guardians had an itinerary set already, Fred Abdalla Jr. (Chief Probation Officer at Jefferson County Juvenile Court) said. So the courts let him go, citing safety as a factor in their decision. But that's not the first time. There's the alleged cover-up to protect the football team. There are the character testimonies from the football coach that praise both teens involved. And there is the lack of action from the police department to act accordingly when the incident occurred. You want to charge them as adults? Let's treat them like adults.
Work Towards Developing Initiatives With Schools, Parents, And The Police Department That Might Aid In The Prevention Of Rape Or Breed Rape Tolerance
This one might be a little difficult. But Steubenville, you've got the juice now. Turn this scrutiny into something positive. Set the stage for change. We've got a long way to go as a nation AND a world, but let's spark conversation about rape and rape tolerance in your community. The time is now.
Legitimize Information Gathered From Said "Vigilante" Groups In Order To Apprehend All Parties Involved In The Rape
Let's be real here: from my assessment, the hacker group Anonymous has dredged up more information that will aid in the prosecution of these teens than the police have. So let's not count it out, OK? Even if this is true...
Nothing in Ohio’s criminal statutes makes it a crime for someone to ridicule a rape victim on a video or otherwise say horrible things about another person. Further, nothing in the law allows someone who says repugnant things on Twitter, Facebook, or other Internet sites to be criminally charged for such statements.
...let's give those videos and social media screenshots some weight in the case. Because they matter. They really do.
Ensure The Protection Of The Victim
There is one thing that you need to remind everyone in order to protect the victim of this crime and so many others that happen:
Getting raped is never the victim's fault.
Remember that, say it, believe it. Because even if these teens are acquitted, these words will travel far and wide for others who might suffer from victim's guilt from rape.
Hopefully you'll take these demands...ideas about how to take control over this case to do your job effectively, rather, to heart.
All eyes are on you Steubenville.
Remember, the time is now...It's time to activate.
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that.
Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole