Two 18-year-old high school football players in Torrington, Conn., have been charged with sexually assaulting separate 13-year-old girls, reports The Associated Press. A third unidentified teen was also arrested in one of the cases, while police say there could be more arrests.
Lt. Michael Emanuel of the Torrington police said the case was criminal because of the girl's ages. “It was consensual in the sense that it was not an attack but not consensual in the eyes of the law,” he said, according to the Hartford Courant.
There have been inevitable comparisons to the Steubenville, Ohio, rape trial, but there has been backlash on social media networks about the arrests of Edgar A. Gonzalez and Joan M. Toribio. Many classmates have come out in support on Twitter of the football players while The Register Citizen is reporting that one of the alleged victims is being bullied on social media after the news of the arrest.
Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to two charges of risk of injury to a minor and a felony sexual assault charge, while Toribio pleaded not guilty to two felony sexual assault charges as well as two charges of risk of injury to a minor, reports The Register Citizen. Gonzalez was previously charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors stemming from an alleged robbery in March 2012, notes the publication. Despite being charged with felony robbery, Gonzalez continued to play football in 2012.
Toribio and Gonzalez were arrested for two incidents that allegedly occurred in February. The unnamed 17-year-old was arrested for an incident that allegedly occurred in the fall with one of the same girls, notes the publication.
The publication is also reporting that four other Torrington High School students were also suspended for a hazing incident last fall at the school.
The alleged sexual assaults are not part of a larger problem at Torrington, according to Athletic Director Mike McKenna, who told The Register Citizen, “If you think there’s some wild band of athletes that are wandering around, then I think you’re mistaken.”
One of the girls has been bullied on social media by classmates. The comments include insults directed at her as well as claims that she “ruined the lives” of two football players, reports The Register Citizen. One popular comment posted on Twitter read, “Even if it was all his fault, what was a 13 year old girl doing hanging around 18 year old guys,” while another tweet said, “I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes,” notes the publication. Details of the reported incidents are unavailable as the cases are sealed.
The New York Times notes the difficult nature of monitoring online bullying as teachers are not trained to properly handle or monitor such situations and, in this case or in Steubenville, users can use different Twitter accounts to tweet messages or continue the bullying.
Kenneth Traub, Torrington Board of Education chairman, said in a press conference, “"Torrington public schools administration and the Torrington Board of Education will continue to support and assist law enforcement officials in their investigation.”