The 16-year-old girl at the center of the rape trial of two Ohio high-school football players learned of the assault over text messages the next morning, it was testified this week. The trial is focusing primarily on text messages, cell phone pictures, and social media surrounding the alleged crime.
The state forensics investigator, Joann Gibb, diligently quoted from text messages and other social media from over 17 devices, mostly cell phones. In one example, the alleged victim asked one of the defendents to clarify what happened the evening before, writing: "And don't lie about anything. I need to know the truth. People keep asking. Idk (I don't know) what to say." While he wrote "nothing happened" he also confirmed she had performed a sex act on him.
The two high-schoolers charged with the sexual assault are Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16. The girl's name is not released. Prosecutors claim citing social media and cell phone interaction, that Mays and Richmond penetrated the victim's vagina with their fingers on August 12. The defense, arguing that no one can be sure who sent the messages from the phone, maintains that both men are innocent and questions the validity of the messages.
Many of the text messages from Mays contradict each other. Some confirm he had sex with her; others say she performed a sex act on him; other messages deny. To one message asking him "Did u do it?" he responds: "No, lol. She could barely move." In another, he writes: "I'm pissed all I got was a hand job, though. I should have raped since everyone thinks I did." In some of the messages Mays describes the girl as "dead" or a "dead body" that evening. An Instagram photo of the two defendants carrying the limp girl by her arms and legs out of the house has also been used in the trial.
The case will most likely hinge on whether Mays and Richmond knew the girl was too impaired to make decisions. Six of the witnesses confirm that the girl was very intoxicated, "stumbling and slurring her words." A 17-year-old girl who went to a party with the alleged victim said they shared half a bottle of vodka, poured into a flavored crushed ice drink—and that she witnessed her friend continue to drink beer. She begged the alleged victim not to continue partying with Mays and Richmond. She didn't see her friend until the next day when she picked her up at another home, where she describes the girl as a "mess," wearing a stained shirt inside-out. The alleged victim had contacted a friend of Mays, asking "Who was there who did that to me? You couldn't have told them to stop or anything?"
The trial, which has divided the down-on-its-luck industrial town on the Ohio River, will most likely stretch on into the weekend, with a verdict expected Sunday. Some have said that the school's popular football team has long been the source of (often accepted) rampant misconduct, and that the culture of protection surrounding the team could be a reason that the other students failed to stop them.