As the Steubenville, Ohio rape case moves closer to beginning, lawyers are filing petitions to protect their clients. The latest from defense attorney Walter Madison, who is defending accused rapist Ma'lik Richmond, has asked that the 16-year-old who was attacked not be referred to as the "victim" but as the "accuser" in the courtroom.
"The ultimate question in this case is whether a crime was committed. Only after any such determination can a person be declared a 'victim,''' Madison wrote in papers that were filed in Steubenville court.
Madison is worried that referring to the girl as a "victim" will establish prejudice against his client. There are photos, videos, and testimony from witnesses that have established the 16-year-old girl was passed out at the party, however.
The case has already divided the town of Steubenville, with some siding with Richmond and his co-defendant Trent Mays and others the alleged victim of the crime. Mays and Richmond have been placed under house arrest, but Richmond was recently granted the privilege to travel with his family to the All-American Academic Football Bowl.
Unfortunately, the young girl has been on her own form of house arrest due to violent threats. Her life has been threatened, as has that of her mother, and the two require constant police protection.
The trial, originally scheduled to start next month, may be pushed back if the lawyers for Mays have their way. His attorney, Brian Duncan, has asked to reschedule the trial's start date and location, given the intensity of the situation in Steubenville.
The group Anonymous has worked on behalf of the 16-year-old girl, organizing a protest to call attention to her plight and ask that police question more witnesses. They also drew attention to what they called Steubenville's "victim blame" and reported acts of intimidation against the girl.
"All those football players are put on pedestals," the victim's mother said at a probable cause hearing. "I do feel they've had preferential treatment."