It will be up to a jury to decide whether the Steubenville superintendent of schools and other adults are guilty of charges stemming from the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two high school players, but the indictments they are facing are an indication that the justice system is seeking accountability for the horrendous events that occurred in the Ohio Valley community.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's decision to convene a grand jury to examine the actions of school administrators and other adults in connection with the rape is commendable. There are instances where local authorities, on their own, may not be enough to ensure justice and it appears that the attorney general realized that.
A crime occurred in Steubenville in August 2012; two young men have been convicted of it. But they did not act alone.
They were not legally able to purchase alcohol, which means that another crime was committed by whoever supplied them with it. The adult who sanctioned the drinking party that preceded the attack also committed a crime. And, if those in a position of authority failed to report what had occurred -- or covered it up after learning about it -- they also committed a crime. All must be held accountable for their actions.
Steubenville, like many Ohio communities, is a "football town." The high school gridiron is king, and those who excel on it not only are hometown heroes, they also may benefit from a sense of entitlement that can translate into those in authority turning a blind eye at youthful exuberance or indiscretion. What happened in Steubenville could have happened elsewhere in Ohio.
The young girl who was drugged, raped and later joked about wasn't a victim of youthful exuberance. She was the victim of a horrible crime and she deserves justice. And that means punishment not only for the two football players who attacked her, but culpability, too, for all whose actions made them complicit in the attack.
Superintendent Mike McVey, coaches Seth Fluharty and Matthew Belardine, and Principal Lynett Gorman will have their day in court. Without Attorney General DeWine's intervention, however, we doubt whether that would have been the case.
DeWine's actions in the Steubenville case, and the indictments that have ensued because of them, send a message far beyond a football-crazy Ohio Valley town. If you are in a position of authority and a crime occurs, you have a responsibility to report it, regardless of the "status" of the perpetrators or community pride. And, if you fail to do so, there are consequences to be paid.