CREDIT: AP Photo/Steubenville Herald-Star, Michael D. McElwain
On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that the grand jury investigating the Steubenville rape case has charged four adults in the community for allegedly helping to cover up the crime that made national headlines last spring. That includes the school district’s superintendent, who is the only one to face felony charges.
The aftermath of the Steubenville rape case, which involved several high school football players assaulting an unconscious victim, has stretched on for months. After two teens were found guilty of rape in March, a grand jury was convened to investigate whether any adults knew about the assault and attempted to keep it quiet. The grand jury made its first arrest last month, jailing a Steubenville school official who was accused of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
In a news conference on Monday morning, DeWine explained that four additional adults are now facing similar charges. In addition to the superintendent, an elementary school principal, a wrestling coach, and a volunteer football coach were also charged — the first two for failing to report child abuse, and the last for facilitating the underage drinking and delinquency of a minor. The high school’s beloved head coach, who was accused of telling football players that he would protect the two rapists from any repercussions, is not facing any consequences from the grand jury.
DeWine told reporters that he doesn’t anticipate future charges in the case, although he cautioned that he can’t completely rule out that possibility. But he did indicate that he hopes the four new arrests will allow the community to feel a sense of closure.
“This community has suffered a great deal. I know they desperately need to be able to put this matter behind them. All of us, no matter where we live, owe it to each other to be better neighbors, classmates, friends, citizens. We must treat rape and sexual assault as the serious crime of violence that is,” DeWine noted. “When it’s investigated, everyone has an obligation to help find the truth — not hide the truth, not tamper with the truth, not obstruct the trust, and not destroy the truth.”
“It’s time to let Steubenville move on,” the attorney general concluded.
The Steubenville rape case sparked a national conversation about rape culture, victim blaming, abuse of power, and sports culture. That’s partly because images and videos of the assault were uploaded to social media, allowing people across the country to get a graphic glimpse into the crime. After the internet hacktivist group Anonymous got involved, the residents of the small Ohio town worried that the entire community had been unfairly depicted as rape apologists.
DeWine noted that the community had a “moral responsibility” to cooperate with the criminal investigation after the rape case came to light, and it’s unacceptable to fail to punish the adults who didn’t live up to that responsibility.
“How do you hold kids accountable if you don’t hold the adults accountable?” he pointed out.