The Fitzsimmons Law Firm recently represented the victim and her family in what is now known as the Steubenville Rape Case. Attorney General Mike DeWine and his office were able to obtain convictions of both defendants for rape. The two defendants, who were sixteen years old, were prosecuted in Juvenile Court and found delinquent and guilty of rape. One of the defendants was also found guilty of distributing a nude picture of the victim on the night of the assault.
Rape offenses are significantly underreported to law enforcement because of the fear of retribution, as well as the many instances when the victim ends up being attacked. The young victim in this case and her family exemplified courage and self-sacrifice in order to bring these criminal defendants to justice.
In the Steubenville Rape Case, the defendants sexually assaulted their victim when she was unconscious. A video was taken of one of the assaults and pictures were also taken. The video was destroyed before it could be retrieved for evidentiary purposes; however, two nude photographs of the victim, which had been shared through social media, were introduced into evidence.
Hopefully the courage and sacrifices of this young victim and her family will serve as an inspiration to other victims of this horrendous crime. Stronger laws need to be enacted to protect these victims and provide harsher punishments to the offenders.
This case also revealed the devastating effects that publication and republication of repugnant statements through social media can have upon the victim, her family and friends. One of the defendants and several others photographed the nude victim while unconscious and made a video of one of the defendants raping this young unconscious girl. Many young adults witnessed or learned of the rape and only one moral, courageous young man attempted to stop the criminal conduct. Our youth need to learn to stand up to conduct they know is criminal and our parents need to teach them that they are equally responsible when they do nothing.
The family has requested that any donations be sent to the Madden House, c/o YWCA Wheeling, 1100 Chapline Street, Wheeling, West Virginia 26003, 304-232-0511, or Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center, Inc., PO Box 6764, Wheeling, West Virginia 26003, 304-234-1783.