CNN ignores the realities of sexual assault

CNN ignores the realities of sexual assault

March 18
20:57 2013

Last Sunday, a high-profile  sexual assault case in Steubenville, Ohio reached a verdict.

But if you watched recent coverage of the case on CNN, you might think the jury’s still out.

One of the network news giant’s anchors, Candy Crowley, along with reporter Poppy Harlow and legal correspondent Paul Callan delivered a truly surreal commentary regarding the lasting trauma of this sexual assault verdict—not for the victim, but the perpetrators.

The case involves Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16. These high school students from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of sexual assault on an intoxicated 16-year-old girl. Both were charged with raping the girl after a party while she was too drunk to stand or speak.

Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years incarceration, while Richmond received a minimum of one year in a juvenile detention center. Both boys will also reportedly be required to register as sex offenders.

The weirdness started on CNN almost immediately after the guilty verdict was announced. Crowley began her report by asking Harlow to describe the emotion in the room during the sentencing.

“The two broke down in tears after a Juvenile Court judge delivered his verdict. They later apologized to the victim and the community, Richmond struggling to speak through his sobs.

‘My life is over,’ he said as he collapsed in the arms of his lawyer.”

– Associated Press

“Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart . . . when that sentence came down, [Ma’lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney . . . he said to him, ‘My life is over. No one is going to want me now,’” Harlow said.

Crowley then questioned the meaning of the verdict on the lives of Mays and Richmond.

“What’s the lasting effect though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley asked Callan. The legal expert then further explained the ramifications of the verdict on the two teens.

“ . . . in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law,” Callan said. “That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

Despite what these tone-deaf talking heads might tell you, the truly haunting aspect of this case is the sheer ugliness of the crimes committed.

As they distributed obscene pictures of the victim via text message and congratulated each other on their sexual “conquest,” Mays and Richmond displayed a breathtaking lack of remorse as they destroyed a young girl’s life. Frankly, their sentence might be too light.

And although they probably don’t realize it, by showing what appeared to be greater concern for the rapists’ destroyed reputations and dashed hopes for the future, Crowley and her cohorts are tacitly implying that the suffering of the unnamed female victim doesn’t matter.

“Star football players” and “promising students” can commit terrible crimes like anyone else. Popularity, intelligence or potential are not measures of legal immunity. Rape is rape.

These are basic truths, but they apparently hold no water in CNN’s bizarre view of the world—because for the rest of us, the network’s comments are completely unacceptable.

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