The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

August 9, 2013

Ohio rape case prompts W.Va. social media program

CHARLESTON — The rape of a 16-year-old girl by two football players in eastern Ohio— a case brought to light by social media — is being used by a federal prosecutor to educate athletes in West Virginia about being responsible when texting and making posts on the Internet.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld called the combination of alcohol, smartphones and social media “extremely volatile” in introducing a program Thursday that will be rolled out this month at 11 high schools.

A judge in March convicted the two players of raping the West Virginia girl last summer after an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville, Ohio, once in a moving car, the second time in the basement of a house.

The rape case “definitely played a role in causing us to think ‘who do we need to focus upon?’” Ihlenfeld told The Associated Press.  “We thought ‘let’s start calling athletic directors and coaches to see if they’re interested.’ That investment of time hopefully will pay dividends down the road, not only because you hope the kids are going to stay out of trouble. Social media creates so many distractions off the field for coaches. Maybe we can help them avoid that situation as well.”

The program was unveiled in Wheeling, which is 26 miles south of Steubenville. It comes on the heels of a drug education program started by Ihlenfeld’s office last year called “Project Future.” The latest program, dubbed “Project Future Two-a-Days,” includes 15 minutes focusing on drugs and alcohol and 15 minutes on social media.

“We bring the perspective of ‘OK, if you do this, this is what can happen. We don’t want to see you in court,”’ Ihlenfeld said.

In the Ohio case, Ma’Lik Richmond was sentenced to at least a year in the state juvenile detention system. Trent Mays was sentenced to at least two years in juvenile detention. He was also convicted of using his phone to photograph the underage girl naked.

The case drew international attention because of the role of text messages and social media in exposing the attack and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the Steubenville High School football team.

The girl, who had been drinking heavily, has no memory of the attack. One of the ways she learned that something had happened to her was by viewing parts of a 12-minute YouTube video filmed the night of the attack in which students made crude jokes about her.

On Monday, a grand jury in Steubenville is set to resume its investigation into whether more laws were broken in the girl’s rape. One of the key issues is whether adults who are required to report crimes knew early on of the rape last August but didn’t say anything.

Ihlenfeld said the Steubenville case “was eye opening — one night with high school students involved with alcohol, (smartphones) and social media, how that can change the lives of those involved forever.”

The West Virginia schools involved in the program are the high school football teams at Brooke, Cameron, Hundred, John Marshall, Magnolia, Wheeling Central, and Wheeling Park, and all athletes in fall sports at Oak Glen, Paden City and Weir high schools. In addition, a presentation will be made at a school expo at Bridgeport High School.

Ihlenfeld invited colleges and other high schools interested in the program to contact him. Ihlenfeld’s district in northern West Virginia covers 32 counties.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Some state Democrats flip to GOP

    As Republicans rally for more control in West Virginia’s long-time Democratic Legislature, a few Democrats have jumped ship to the GOP and are challenging former colleagues in midterm races.
    Republicans face their biggest election opportunity in decades in the House of Delegates, where a four-seat swing would put them in power for the first time in 85 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads