Opinion: Another rape, another suicide



Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson is a senior architecture major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Ron Burgandy at [email protected].

Lately, the news seems to be filled with stories about young women being sexually assaulted and harassed by their peers; the sad tale of Audrie Pott is not unprecedented.

This story follows a pattern that mimics other cases heard throughout this semester. Rehtaeh Parsons, a Canadian teen, died after a suicide attempt because she could not recover from being a victim of a documented rape. And it was only a month ago that two Steubenville boys were convicted of raping an unconscious girl at a party.

That was the first time that I had ever heard of Steubenville, Ohio, but certainly not the last. For the next two weeks, various headlines plastered newspapers and websites describing a crime that rocked a small town in Ohio, each retelling the story in intimate detail. The court case that ensued became a contest to determine whether the girl was too drunk to have been a willing participant, as opposed to focusing on the rapists themselves.

The most shocking thing was not the lack of remorse or understanding from the two defendants, but the locals’ concerns about what the incident might do to the football team in the upcoming season. Students from Steubenville High School harassed the girl who was taken advantage of, concerned that she had endangered the futures of their star athletes. The adults in the town, and even the mayor, felt that the most pressing matter was to make sure the team’s chances at a title in the fall were not jeopardized. The two boys will be allowed out of juvenile detention on weekends in order to play in games. As disgusting as this is, it is not uncommon.

Last Thursday, three teenage boys in the Pott case were arrested on charges of sexual battery, more than six months after the incident occurred. Unfortunately, it was far too late; Audrie had hanged herself in September after pictures of the act had been posted on the Internet and distributed around school.

In all three cases, the victims were repeatedly harassed, but to simply call it bullying would diminish the severity of the crimes. For Audrie, she didn’t just lose her cheerful demeanor; she also lost her faith. The three boys who assaulted her had been considered her friends, and despite the fact that many of her classmates mourned her death, some of them may have contributed to it. She was teased and tortured by people that she trusted, casting her into enough despair to end her own life. For whatever reason, the authorities’ investigation was heavily delayed; let’s hope they are more efficient if an event like this were to ever reoccur.

Thus far, the young woman from Steubenville has been able to survive the attacks, but the other two did not. If steps to prevent these occurrences are not taken, the next victim might succumb to the same fate.