The Steubenville Defense Will Center on Date Rape Not Existing - Silence is Consent
The very public trial of the very publicly shamed “rape crew” will begin on Wednesday in Steubenville, Ohio, and despite pre-trial testimony from three as-yet-untried high-school athletes who say they witnessed an unconscious 16-year-old dragged around by her hands and feet, and slurring her words, and at one point lying on the ground before she was penetrated, it appears that the lawyers for Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond will say the case’s Jane Doe consented to the whole thing. We’re not kidding. “Defense attorneys believe the girl, who lived across the river in Weirton, w.va., made a decision to excessively drink and — against her friends’ wishes — to leave with the boys. They assert that she consented to sex,” reports the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Rachel Dissell. Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, is getting specific, citing “an abundance of evidence here that she was making decisions, cognitive choices … She didn’t affirmatively say no.”
The alleged victim is not expected to testify when the trial begins in Jefferson County juvenile court — before outside judge Tom Lipps took over for a recused judge with ties to the famed Steubenville High football team, a West Virginia judge blocked a subpoena of the girl and two other witnesses called by the defense. But that hasn’t stopped Richmond’s attorney from using Jane Doe’s so-called “silence” against her: “The person who is the accuser here is silent just as she was that night, and that’s because there was consent,” Madison said.
May we take a minute, while allowing all due process to run its course, to remind America that date rape exists? That under the law, even though a woman or girl may accompany her attacker, that does not equal consent? And that, under the law, a woman or girl under the influence of drugs or alcohol, willingly or unwillingly, is not at fault for being sexually assaulted? Date rape is a felony under Ohio state law — with two mentions of controlled substances under the National District Attorney’s Association classification of rape: