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Steubenville Rape Trial Begins

Steubenville, Ohio.
Jason Cohn
Reuters /Landov
Steubenville, Ohio.

The case has already been "tried" in the social media, as The New York Times writes.

But Wednesday in Steubenville, Ohio, a real court will be the setting as two high school football players in a town that's obsessed with high school football go on trial for the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl last summer.

It's a case, as All Things Considered has reported, that has caused turmoil in Steubenville — where "accusations, recriminations and threats" have been flying in recent months as critics of the town's football culture charged that players have been allowed to get out of control and supporters of the team have tried to blame the accuser.

It's also a case that has attracted attention around the world, as The Plain Dealer's editorial board writes, "for what it says about small-town insularity, the link between partying and sexual violence among young people and how social media can turn up the volume — for good and ill."

As we reported back in January, what happened in Steubenville became a national and international story "after a photo and video that are alleged to have been taken on the night in question were posted on the Internet."

On the eve of the trial, ABC News' 20/20 rolled out a story that looks like a preview of how the defense will try to make the case that the girl was — at least at some point during a night of partying with the players — "playing along." Her civil attorney, 20/20 reports, calls that characterization "bizarre."

For those just catching up on this story, The Atlantic Wire this morning offers a "who's-who" look at all those involved.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.