STEUBENVILLE - A national organization is sponsoring a mobile billboard that is traveling throughout Steubenville this week, calling for justice in the alleged rape of a 16-year-old Weirton female.
"Justice needs to be served. A rape was (allegedly) committed and people need to be held accountable. Women across the country see themselves in this story and we are tired of this. We want justice," Karin Roland, UltraViolet campaign director, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
"There are a lot of circumstances in this case that have caught the attention of the national media. The survivor of this attack is so young, and if she can't get justice, its very, very wrong," added Roland.
SENDING A MESSAGE — A mobile billboard paid for by the activist group UltraViolet can be seen on Steubenville streets until Saturday. The organization wants to see anyone involved in the alleged rape of a 16-year-old Weirton female face justice. -- Contributed
Ma'lik Richmond of Steubenville and Trent Mays of Bloomingdale, both 16-year-old Steubenville High School students, have been charged with rape, and Mays also has been charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. They are set to be tried in Jefferson County Juvenile Court starting Feb. 13 in front of visiting Judge Tom Lipps. Their attorneys have denied the charges in court.
The message on the two-sided billboard calls on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to "Prosecute everyone who participated in the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, including those who posted photos and videos on the Internet instead of trying to stop or report the crime. The world is watching Steubenville."
Roland said the mobile billboard arrived in the city Tuesday and will remain in the city until Saturday.
The mobile billboard is owned by Traffic Displays Mobile Billboards of Greenville, Mich.
Messages left on the company's answering machine were not returned.
"The mobile billboard costs approximately $1,500 a day, and it was paid for with donations from 652 UltraViolet members. The donations averaged approximately $35," noted Roland.
"UltraViolet was formed to expand women's rights and to fight sexism. We have nearly 70,000 signatures on a petition demanding Attorney General Mike DeWine step up his work in this case to show that when it comes to a crime as serious as rape there is no get-out-of-jail-free card. We want to see justice, and this billboard is the first step in our campaign," continued Roland.
According to Roland, UltraViolet is an online community of more than 300,000 women and men.
"There were witnesses who were present during the alleged attack. But instead of getting help they took photos and videos and made jokes. We don't want the public pressure on this case to go away. The driver of the mobile billboard has been stopped by people in Steubenville who have sympathetic comments. And we are receiving encouraging comments on FaceBook and Twitter," stated Roland.
"We have UltraViolet members in Steubenville and that area who have attended the rallies seeking justice. And they plan to attend future rallies," said Roland.
She said the campaign, "escalate pressure on the attorney general next week".
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)