Over a month ago now, a juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio, found two local high-school football stars guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl. They each received the maximum sentence available to the court.
The case attracted national headlines, and the media post-mortem expressed a lot of sympathy for two promising teenagers whose adolescent mistake had cost them so much.
When the verdict was reported on CNN yesterday the discussion once again focused on the least relevant part of any case involving rape and sexual abuse — that being the devastating effect the judicial outcome would have on the perpetrators’ lives.
“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” CNN’s Candy Crowley wondered aloud to CNN legal contributor Paul Callan.
“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” he responded. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law. That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
Clementine Ford tears the coverage to pieces. The details of the case make for harrowing reading.
More edifying is a blog post from Ann Voskamp which responds to the case:
When you’re the mother of four sons, Steubenville is about us.
Steubenville is about having a conversation with sons about hard things and asking you to do holy things.
What follows is an open letter to the eldest of her six children, who will soon turn 18. It is not only a beautiful articulation of “real manhood,” but also an authoritative condemnation of sexual abuse by someone who has confronted it in the past.
It’s well worth reading: After Steubenville: 25 things ours sons need to know about manhood.