Good That the Two Steubenville Rapists Have Been Judged Guilty, But Are Dozens More in the Community Getting Off Scot Free?
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While the trial produced ample evidence for a conviction of the defendants, the full picture of what took place at several locations and en route between them, over a period of probably 6-8 hours, is not yet complete. That was not the purpose of this trial, and the amount of evidentiary detail was further reduced by Jane Doe's limited memory of that night, as well as the defendants' decision not to testify.
Unanswered Question: Was Jane Doe Drugged?
The possibility that someone slipped Jane Doe a date rape drug was raised from the start, as Jane Doe, her family, and others tried to reconstruct what had been done to her. A timely test might have detected traces in her hair, but the police and local prosecutor didn't do any such test.
Most media reports have been content to report that Jane Doe was "intoxicated" and leave it otherwise unexamined. But the timeline established by state prosecutors at trial allows for the possibility in an obvious but only circumstantial manner.
According to the evidence, Jane Doe was drinking vodka with a girlfriend at the first party of the night and was fairly "sloppy drunk," but still more or less navigating on her own. Friends testified that they tried to keep her from driving away with four boys (including the two defendants), but she was not deterred.
In the car she was assaulted. Mark Cole testified that he videotaped the assault and later deleted the recording. The question of a date rape drug was apparently not asked.
After this car ride, Jane Doe's demeanor was demonstrably different from what it had been at the first party. She was mostly inert, carried around like a potato sack, referred to by several witnesses as "dead."
None of this is proof, but what competent attorney would want his client to take the stand and answer questions about a car ride that, at best, reflects badly on him?
If the defendants had testified, they almost surely would have been asked what, if anything, made them think Jane Doe was a willing participant in any of her own abuse. Before the trial, Ma'lik Richmond told ABC News he "felt like she was coming on to me," but he didn't take the stand to state that under oath.
Does Lying Limp and Silent Constitute Consent to Anything?
The defense attorneys used a typical rape-case defense in the trial: that Jane Doe consented to all the activity involving her, both conscious and unconscious. Her consent, they argued, consisted of her never having said "No." No doubt they knew it was a hard sell with a comatose victim.
Trying the case in the media in advance, defense counsel even allowed Richmond to do that pre-trial interview with ABC News in which he also claimed that she "had her arm wrapped around me ... " and that the picture of him carrying her limp body was taken by the girl's former boyfriend, and was "a joke."
Describing the circumstances surrounding the picture, Richmond said, "She was just like laughing, we were all talking, just clowning around and that's when her ex-boyfriend was like, 'let me get a picture of this drunk b****' and that's when we took the picture."
Defense attorneys did not try to put those assertions into evidence, despite being able to call at least three witnesses to corroborate the story. Besides the two defendants, the defense could have called the ex-boyfriend, Cody Saltsman, who still attends Steubenville High School, where he was on the football team with the defendants.