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Published: Wednesday, 3/20/2013

Steubenville victim ripped in social media

2 teen girls charged with threats go to court


STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — The victimization through social media of a 16-year-old girl who was raped at a party last August hasn’t ended, police said — even though a judge found two Steubenville High School football players guilty of the crime on Sunday.

Two teenage girls have been accused of sending threatening tweets about the rape victim, a day after Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were sent to juvenile detention for raping the West Virginia girl.

On Monday, Steubenville police arrested a 16-year-old girl, a relative of Richmond. A 15-year-old turned herself in the same day, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.

The girls appeared at a detention proceeding Tuesday morning in Jefferson County Juvenile Court. They are charged with intimidation of a victim, which is a felony, and aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment, both of which are misdemeanors.

Asked if their tweets were about the 16-year-old rape victim, Sheriff Abdalla said “no question.”

“We’re monitoring Twitter 24 hours a day,” he said.

Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Sam Pate said it appeared few lessons have been learned about the seriousness of posting on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

“It’s beyond me why these young people believe it’s OK to post things of this nature on social media,” he said.

Sheriff Abdalla also said the 15-year-old started apologizing on Twitter for making death threats, but she was charged for only the threatening tweet authorities found.

Her attorney, Francesca Carinci, said her client is a good student, whose family she knows personally, and who had never been in trouble before.

“I think, first of all, we need to calm down and reflect [about what] the kids really said and if it’s a genuine threat,” Ms. Carinci said. “We are operating under a heightened sense of hysteria.”

The girl posted that she would beat up Jane Doe, the name often used to describe the victim during the rape trial.

Ms. Carinci also said her client was attacked on social media for supporting one of the defendants in the rape case, who is a friend.

Raven Harris, Richmond’s first cousin, said her sister, the 16-year-old defendant, was quoting lyrics by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill in her tweet.

“People post lyrics every day about murder. They might be murderers for real,” said Ms. Harris, who is also the girl’s guardian.

Sheriff Abdalla said the girl’s tweet was: “You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you . . . it’s going to be a homicide.”

The lyric in the rapper’s song “Traumatized” is: “You ripped my family apart and made my momma cry. So when I see you . . . it’s gon’ be a homicide.”

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Molly Born is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.

Contact Molly Born at: mborn@post-gazette.com, 1-412-263-1944, or on Twitter @borntolede.

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