Another young girl may have been raped in Steubenville last year. But you probably didn’t hear about it.
The small Ohio town drew national attention after members of the popular high school football team sexually assaulted an unconscious 16-year-old girl. The incident was filmed and publicized over social media, sparking a widespread conversation about rape culture and victim-blaming. Two of the teens involved were eventually convicted of rape in March, and four adults — including the school’s superintendent, an elementary school principal, a wrestling coach, and a volunteer football coach — were indicted on a variety of charges in the case last Monday.
The new charges against the adults include evidence tampering, obstruction of justice, failing to report child abuse, and facilitating the underage drinking and delinquency of a minor. But Newsweek reports that half of those charges, including the charge of failing to report child abuse, are actually related to a separate alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl that occurred months before the more high-profile incident.
That case may have also involved Steubenville High School athletes. It also has connections to social media, as the victim didn’t report the crime to the police until a conversation between members of the baseball and wrestling teams surfaced online. Off-the-record sources also say that the earlier alleged rape may have occurred in a coach’s house.
The second alleged victim and her family is being represented by Bob Fitzsimmons, the same attorney who represented Jane Doe in the more recent sexual assault case. The family has yet to file charges — but there are striking similarities to the later Steubenville case, even beyond the sexual assault allegations and the potential connection to high school athletes. For instance, a local radio host suggested that the alleged 14-year-old victim had actually just gotten drunk and “let three guys have their way with” her. Some say that those sorts of comments pressured the young girl into remaining silent about the crime.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine tried to bring closure to the Ohio town when he filed the latest charges last week. “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,” said DeWine at the time. But it seems that some more uncomfortable conversations about rape culture and victim-blaming may be on the horizon for Steubenville.