The Steubenville rape case has yet to begin but has already produced a big revelation as the football players accused of raping a high school girl say a supposedly incriminating photo was posed as a joke.
The players, 17-year-old Trent Mays and 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond, are accused of raping an incapacitated girl at a party this summer and then taking the nearly unconscious girl to another party. The crimes were allegedly documented on cell phone videos and pictures including one that shows Richmond and Mays holding the girl’s arms and legs as she is apparently passed out.
But in a recent interview, the Steubenville rape defendants say the girl wasn’t unconscious and consented to the picture as a joke.
“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,” Ma’lik told ABC News.
The defendants also contend that the girl came onto them.
“She had her arm wrapped around me and one hand on my chest. It just felt like she was coming on to me,” Ma’lik told ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas in an interview for 20/20. The defendants also said that the girl made it clear she wanted to leave with Trent.
The rape case has garnered national attention, in part because of the small Ohio town of Steubenville and its focus on the Big Red high school football team. Outsiders have accused the town of protecting the players of the popular team, with demonstrators descending on the small Ohio town on the border with West Virginia.
The fact that many of the events of the night of the accused rape were recorded and posted on social media has also made the Steubenville rape case unique. Many of those at the party Tweeted about the girl and her past relationship with a football player, implying that she was sought out as retribution. Another partygoer filmed a video of another high school athlete joking about the fact that the girl was intoxicated and being assaulted nearby.