In a small rust belt town of Steubenville, Ohio, just west of Pittsburgh, teens from a local high school celebrated the end of their summer break in 2012 with a collection of alcohol-laden parties. But this party did not end with a simple hangover.
Instead, the party ended with a girl waking up naked on a couch in an unusual house having no recollection of what happened the night before. The 16-year-old female victim would soon find out that all of the tragic events of the night were highly documented on text messages, e-mails and social media from the accused assailants themselves and others who attended the party.
It came to a close on Sunday when the accused teens Trent Mays, 17, and Malik Richmond, 16, were found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to no less than one to two years in juvenile detention with the possibility of being detained until they are 21 years old.
What the two teens did that night was inexcusable. It was made clear, through court testimony, that the victim was too intoxicated to be able to consent to sexual contact. Though Mays and Richmond pleaded the contrary, the two took advantage of the victims inebriated state and they deserve to face the consequences.
But while some justice could be brought to the horrible and appalling actions of Mays and Richmond, everyone at that party was just as guilty as the perpetrators of the alleged rape.
We live in a society in which yesterdays bad decisions are tomorrows most watched videos on YouTube or tomorrows Facebook status update.
It is easy to tell that nobody at that party had any remorse for what happened to the victim because not only did nobody do anything to stop it, but also nobody hesitated to post videos of it on YouTube, send vivid text messages or emails about it and even take pictures of the victim as she lay naked.
Mays and Richmond deserve the punishment that they were sentenced. But those who watched and did nothing and thought it necessary to post the crime to the world hold the same burden of guilt.