Lifestyle & Belief

Steubenville rape trial against two high school football players begins


STEUBENVILLE, OH - MAY 05: The town of Steubenville sits near the Ohio River on May 5, 2009. The small steel town is divided over an alleged rape involving high school football players.



The Steubenville, Ohio rape trial of two teenaged football players began on Wednesday, in a case that has divided the town and raised questions about the definition of consent. 

The football players — 16-year-old Ma'Lik Richmond and 17-year-old Trent Mays — allegedly assaulted a 16-year-old girl during a night of drunken partying in August 2012. They reportedly penetrated her with their hands twice, once in a car and also in a basement of the house where a party was going on, CBS News reported

Both will be tried as juveniles, which means their maximum sentence would free them both by age 21, according to Yahoo! Sports

Though social media has been banned from the courtroom, the case has already largely played out online, including a video posted online featuring some local teens joking about the incident, calling the girl so drunk she appeared "dead," and another calling her "so raped," according to CBS News

The rape has proved divisive in the small Ohio town, whose football program is one of the most successful in the country and highly influential in the town, Yahoo! Sports reported. 

“Some want justice for the girl, and others want it to just go away and be swept under the rug,” Sarah Morris, a Steubenville native, told the New York Times of the emotionally-charged case. 

The girl is now expected to testify during the trial, which is focusing in on the definition of "consent." Unlike drunk driving, there is no clear line for how drunk is too drunk to consent to sexual relations. 

"The state doesn't have to prove that she was flat-lined, but it's clear... she was not in the state to consent," prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said during a preliminary hearing, BBC News reported

"My client was unconscious that night. She doesn't have any memory of what happened," the victim's attorney Bob Fitzsimmons told ABC News

Both boys have pleaded not guilty. 

More from GlobalPost: Ohio city's website to update community on rape case

[View the story "Steubenville rape trial of two football players ignites controversy" on Storify]