The guilty were convicted, the sentence was passed and CNN’s Poppy Harlow was in Stuebenville, Ohio on March 17 to report on the trial of accused rapists Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond. As the delinquents’ verdict came down, Harlow, along with anchor Candy Crowley and CNN legal contributor Paul Callan, discussed the consequences of the incident in Steubenville. It was a touching reflection on the grief we feel when a young person’s life is destroyed in an instant, all that potential of their once-promising future, wasted. In Callan’s words, “We’ve seen here a courtroom drenched in tears and tragedy.” The only problem is, these CNN reporters and analysts weren’t mourning for the rape victim, but for the rapists.
Mays and Richmond, a pair of high school football players in Stuebenville, were arrested in August 2012 for raping a 16-year-old girl at a party while she was intoxicated and unconscious. The case made national headlines when a 12-minute video and an Instagram photo documenting the assault were released online; both went viral. The two teenage perpetrators were tried in juvenile court. Richmond got a year in detention for sexual assault; Mays got two years because of an additional charge that he had taken and distributed a picture of the underage victim. They were also required to register as juvenile sex offenders.
“It was incredibly emotional, 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 life fell apart,” Harlow said.
In other words, according to Harlow, the real tragedy in this case is that a couple of really good kids are watching their whole lives go down the drain, all because they just happened to rape somebody. Harlow went on to emphasize alcohol was a factor in the case, implying the boys’ actions were somehow excusable because they were drunk, or because the girl was drunk.
Then Harlow sent the audience back to the courtroom for the apologies of the two boys to the victim and her family. Mays’ apology sounded forced, while Richmond broke down in hysterical tears. He was also quoted as saying “My life is over. No one is going to want me now.” I’d have liked to see him look the girl he raped straight in the eye while he spoke, but Harlow and the rest of the CNN crew treated the apology like a stirring scene of redemption. Harlow even got a little misty-eyed toward the end of her report, probably because she was now telling us about Richmond’s father, who told his son he loved him for the first time in the courtroom that day. What a tear-jerker.
After Harlow was done trying bravely to keep her composure, Crowley and Callan discussed the lasting effects of the two boys having to register as sex offenders.
“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives,” Callan said. “Employers, when looking up their background, will see that they’re registered sex offenders. When they move into a new neighborhood and somebody goes on the Internet, where these things are posted, neighbors will know that they’re a registered sex offender. It’s really something that will have a lasting impact.”
Yes, the life of a convicted sex offender is truly difficult. Give me a break. This is CNN, covering a rape trial by showering sympathy on the criminals, while the victim is barely mentioned. It’s sick. It’s indicative of some serious, unresolved problems in our culture, most notably the fact women are still second-class and rapists are given special treatment when they also happen to be athletes. Crowley, Harlow and Callan should resign in disgrace for this immoral mockery of journalism. As for Mays and Richmond, they deserve castration, not sympathy.
Originally published in The Lumberjack (http://jackcentral.com/opinion/2013/04/cnn-forsakes-morality-by-siding-with-rapists-2/)