At Steubenville, Ohio, Rape Trail, Consent Issue Is Seen as Key


This week’s rape trial involving two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players is expected to boil down to one main issue — consent, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It won’t be the job of the visiting judge hearing the case against the two 16-year-old students to consider whether their status as Big Red football players got them preferential treatment, whether more people should be charged or why high school kids freely had access to alcohol. All the things that have been hotly debated by Internet activists, athletic boosters and women’s rights groups for more than six months won’t matter in the courtroom in the Ohio River Valley. The trial starts Wednesday.

Nor will the video in which the 16-year-old girl at the center of the rape case was derided as a “dead girl” and “so raped.” Instead, prosecutors and defense attorneys will zero in on a murky span of several hours in late August, when five teens left a raucous party and piled into a Volkswagen Jetta. In the hours after, prosecutors say, the boys ferried the accuser, who had been drinking, from party to party, sometimes carrying her when she couldn’t walk. 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.

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