Ariel Levy: Was Justice Served in Steubenville? : The New Yorker
In trying to determine what happened in #Steubenville, the police and the public began with the same information, gathered from the same online sources: ugly tweets, the Instagram photograph, and a deeply disturbing video. But while the police commandeered phones, interviewed witnesses, and collected physical evidence from the crime scene, readers online relied on collaborative deduction. The story they produced felt archetypally right. The “hacktivists” of #Anonymous were modern-day Peter Parkers—computer nerds who put on a costume and were transformed into superhero vigilantes. The girl from West Virginia stood in for every one of the world’s female victims: nameless, faceless, stripped of identity or agency. And there was a satisfying villain. Teen-age boys who play football in Steubenville—among many other places—are aggrandized and often do end up with a sense of thuggish entitlement.
In versions of the story that spread online, the girl was lured to the party and then drugged. While she was delirious, she was transported in the trunk of a car, and then a gang of football players raped her over and over again and urinated on her body while her peers watched, transfixed. The town, desperate to protect its young princes, contrived to cover up the crime. If not for Goddard’s intercession, the police would have happily let everyone go. None of that is true.