CNN’s coverage of the verdict for the two teens charged with rape in Steubenville, Ohio, is gaining notoriety.
After Ma'lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17, were convicted on Sunday for the rape of a drunk 16-year-old girl last August, CNN general correspondent Poppy Harlow’s comments surrounding the verdict came off as sympathetic toward the two teens, Gawker pointed out.
Speaking to CNN’s Cindy Crowley about the verdict, Harlow said it was, “"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 lives fell apart.”
She went on to describe how Ma'lik Richmond collapsed in court after the verdict was read, told his attorney that “my life is over, no one is going to want me now.” The segment cuts to footage of Richmond hugging his attorney and crying in the courtroom.
“I had no intentions to do anything like that. I’m sorry to put you guys through this. ... I just want you to realize that I’m sorry,” Richmond said between sobs in the courtroom to the victim.
Crowley then interviewed Paul Callan, a CNN legal contributor, on the long-lasting ramifications of a guilty verdict for the high school students.
“The most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders,” he said. “That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a juvenile correctional facility. Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year. Both could be in detention until the age of 21, CNN reports.
The two teens were accused of raping a 16-year-old girl over a series of back-to-school parties in August 2012. According to prosecutors, each took turns penetrating the girl with their fingers while she was heavily intoxicated, CNN reports.
In a small Ohio town where high school football is king, the case was thrust into the national spotlight. An offshoot of the Internet hacking group Anonymous called Knight Sec, leaked records including a video where Michael Nodianos, 18, a former Steubenville baseball player, is filmed ranting and joking about the rapes and frequently referring to the victim as “dead,” ABC’s Good Morning America reports.
Text messages and tweets offered a similar view toward the crimes.
“Yeah dude, she was like a dead body. I just needed some sexual attention,” was one of Mays’ text messages.
Knight Sec also organized demonstrations in Steubenville that raised the question of a potential cover-up to protect the football stars, according to the news outlet.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine described to CNN how the teens displayed a “cavalier attitude toward sex.”
In a statement released by the Atlantic, DeWine said a grand jury will convene on or around April 15 to "bring finality" to the case where "indictments could be returned and additional charges could be filed."
To give a scope of his office’s investigation, DeWine referred to the 13 cellphones, 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, 940 video clips, 3,188 phone calls, 16,422 cellphone contacts that could be used as evidence in the upcoming grand jury trial.
"This is not a happy time for anyone. No one can take any pleasure in this. Every rape is a tragedy. This is a tragedy," DeWine said. "This happens every Friday night. ... We shouldn't tolerate it anymore as a country."