At What Price, Fame: The High Cost of Re-Victimization and the Steubenville Rape Case

Image**This post has been revised to include vital information specifically related to Facebook Private Messages shared between Joey Ortega and Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard. All messages are reposted with permission of their original recipient and respondent, Joey Ortega.

~by Amy Lynn Burch

published on April 29, 2013 @ 10:29pm (EST)

With the verdict decided and justice served, I sit here at my computer some six weeks later contemplating the potential aftermath of the Steubenville Rape case. Although, I am satisfied that the correct judgment was rendered I cannot help but wonder how much damage was done to the case and all parties involved due to social media manipulation and the meddlesome behavior of those claiming to be members of the hacktivist group “Anonymous”. I’ve written before that I believe one blogger in particular has used the Steubenville Rape case to further her own personal agenda. I contend that she has a personal axe to grind, if you will, as respects the powers that be in Steubenville. By powers that be I mean specifically law enforcement of Steubenville and also Big Red football which has been suggested by others including said blogger to have considerable pull within the Steubenville community. I almost don’t care to mention the blogger’s name again for the simple reason that she has gone out of her way to make herself a household name at the expense of a victimized 16 year old girl that we’ve all come to know as Jane Doe.  I’m not one to reward those who seek attention or fame at the expense of a sexual assault survivor’s dignity, or any other form of abuse for that matter.  In my opinion, stated blogger has been rewarded enough and her 15 minutes of fame which should be well over by now. However, much to my personal dislike and for the sake of clarity, I will have to name her plainly, yet again. As the Grand Jury convenes in Steubenville tomorrow, April 30, 2013, as it considered perhaps more charges against yet unnamed persons for their involvement in the case, I felt it important to revisit the progression or, rather, the unraveling of this case and its potential aftermath on the victim, as well as all persons involved.

For months, “For Jane Doe!” has been the would-be battle cry of numerous social media mavens, not the least of which is Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard, coupled with her so-called “Anonymous drones” as well as her self-professed best friend, Michelle L McKee.  But how, exactly, was any of this social media circus which they by their own admission created and drove full-force into the media spotlight truly for the benefit of Jane Doe? What was the game plan? Did they have a game plan, or what end state did they intend to achieve? What did they hope to accomplish “for Jane Doe” that wasn’t already being done privately by her own family and law enforcement within the town of Steubenville, and why did they assume that national attention was warranted and would help? Based on what did they assume that “nothing was being done” to investigate this case? Not one of these questions has been sufficiently answered by Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard and her Anon-followers. In fact, these questions appear to have been deliberately avoided. Curious.

In order to efficiently answer these questions, perhaps we should examine the timeline of events as presented by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter at a news conference immediately following the verdict in the Steubenville Rape case to see just exactly how Goddard, Anonymous, and McKee championed Jane Doe’s “cause” and aided in bringing justice in this case. I remind the reader that the assault of Jane Doe occurred between the dates of August 11th and 12th, 2012 and was reported to authorities by Jane Doe’s parents two days later on August 14th, 2012 after having taken Jane Doe to a local hospital for examination. Steubenville law enforcement officials were notified by hospital officials and Jane Doe’s parents as to the events and allegations of sexual assault – for which Mays and Richmond have now been found delinquent – at that time:

On August 16, 2012, the Steubenville Police Department asked the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to assist in processing the scene of a rape that occurred at a home in Wintersville, OH.  Our agent immediately responded and processed the scene. 

 

On August 17, 2012, the Police Department contacted BCI again and asked for our assistance in analyzing cell phones collected from the main suspects in the rape investigation and to process other forensic evidence.

**As an aside: It should be noted that at this point during the seven day period between authorities collecting and analyzing data to the time that Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin filed the charges, activity related to case in terms of investigation was still ongoing although not made public for reasons likely involving the protection of case evidence. 

On August 24, 2012, Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin filed three charges against a juvenile — rape, kidnapping, and dissemination of nudity-oriented materials of a juvenile.  On that same day, Prosecutor Hanlin also filed charges of rape and kidnapping against a second juvenile. 

 

On August 27, 2012, Prosecutor Hanlin moved the Court to bind the juveniles over to be treated as adults.  On that same day, Prosecutor Hanlin formerly requested assistance from the Ohio Attorney General’s office in the prosecution of the two juveniles.  Thereafter, the Common Pleas Court appointed my office as the prosecutor in this matter.  I then directed attorneys Marianne Hemmeter and Brian Deckert in our Special Prosecutions Section to handle the case. 

 

On October 12, 2012, the juvenile court of Jefferson County held a probable cause hearing for the two juveniles.  At that time, the Court determined that the two were and are amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile court system and therefore denied the motion to try them as adults.

Does anyone else see what I see? Or, rather, what I don’t see? Nowhere within the above timeline are Goddard and/or Anonymous mentioned. Neither is McKee mentioned in bringing material information to the attention of authorities in Steubenville regarding the then-alleged assault of Jane Doe.  Everything outlined above is a matter of record clearly documented and none of it is to the credit of Goddard, Anonymous, and/or McKee for a very specific reason; they provided nothing of material value in the prosecution of this case. Zero, zip, nada! Just to be clear, let’s look at when Goddard, specifically, did become involved by willfully, and without invitation, inserting herself into this case. It should be clearly noted that the following Facebook Private Messages dated August 25, 2012, were released to me by the recipient and respondent, Joey Ortega, and are used by permission. All of the typos and grammatical errors of both Goddard and Ortega are left intact to protect the integrity of the messages:

12:18am

Alexandria Goddard

left you a voicemail – trying to figure out how to deal with this blog I’m working on. High school football players gang raped a female from another school. Party was at a COACH’s house, and the news and cops sat on this for over a week before making an arrest

AND there are still players who were there and had the video, were tweeting it and they were suited up tonight for the game.

12:38am

Joey Ortega

So there is an active investigation?

 

12:38am

Alexandria Goddard

yes, but the coach hasn’t been arrested and the other players have deleted tweets that sent the video out. You should see the shit I found.

NOT A WORD has been said about these other kids.

http://www.wtov9.com/news/news/breaking-news-steubenville-teens-officially-charge/nRJsQ/watch that video

 

 

  • watch that video

12:44am

Joey Ortega

K, I cant atm. But will later tonight. So what is the issue. Not sure in angle, or u sitting on exclusive price of evidence or a tipster that needs to be worked?

 

12:44am

Alexandria Goddard

I am about half afraid to give it to LE because they are protecting these other kids.

I used to live in Steubenville and KNOW how it works there.

 

12:49am

Joey Ortega

What do u have?

 

12:49am

Alexandria Goddard

proof that two of the varsity players tweeted the video, deleted their tweets so they wouldn’t get in trouble and it was posted on a site with the tags “rape” and drunk, as well as talking about sodomizing her and pissing on her.

 

1:15am

Joey Ortega

You have the tweets? Where did u get them? Are u sure they are authentic?

 

1:31am

Alexandria Goddard

Yes they are authentic. They came from google cache and topsy which will archive deleted tweets.

 

1:58am

Joey Ortega

So what is the deal now. Everyone. Thinks all evidence is gone or there is a gag order regarding the publication of such stuff?

 

12:45pm

Alexandria Goddard

There is no gag order. I don’t think LE even knows the shit is out there. This is a small town. What pisses me off is that video is STILL being shown. People saved it to their cells and it was being shown as of last night in a BAR in town. Can you believe that? Plus, the other four players involved were suited up and played last night. That’s how important football is to that town. This is going to end up being PennState, Jr.

 

2:57pm

Joey Ortega

It was playing at a bar last night? Thats essentially child porn. It was on their main screens or someone was walking around with it and showing ppl?

 

2:58pm

Alexandria Goddard

waqlking around showing it

 

3:00pm

Joey Ortega

How did you hear about this? Was the freak arrested?

 

3:00pm

Alexandria Goddard

I lived in Steubenville and still have lots of friends there. Someone who was at the bar last night told me about it.

and no…and the other four players have not been arrested. I honestly don’t think the prosecutor’s office is going to do much more. That town loves their high school football team more than they like justice. and they are all starters who were involved.

 

3:07pm

Joey Ortega

I say run with the story. Are you wanting my help with angles for your blog are are you asking to make this a BTYT thing?

 

3:08pm

Alexandria Goddard

aksing your help. I can cross post of course, but I am going to name the others and post the screenshots of their tweets and ask WHY they have not been arrested.

  • Joey Ortega

    I say let’s do both if interested. I’ll help either way of course but what if we ran this as ongoing story with BTYT too. You’ll be noted as the lead reporter on this story. You’ll writhe the articles and give verbal updates on the air. Then you can do something’s that I think you should do, and do it under our banner so theyll have to screw with me before screwing with you. A couple of things I suggest is sending a letter to the DA and the ADA posing your questions as well a copies of the tweets. Also do the same for the PD chief and detective in charge. Then the same to the principal of the school. Then the stick part is what to do after. Personally I would then write the story series intro, with all the details and the tweets, blot out victims name of its still not public, and include the questions posed to these people and that you are awaiting their answers and will update. This way it hooks readers/listeners and gets the ball rolling before anyone can attempt to block the tweets with some legal BS or threats. Doing all this under the banner of BTYT , with all the endorsements we have in the law enforcement community may make it less likely that ppl will sit on the enter and not answer in some way. Just don’t do the coming at your throat thing…yet, lol. It rarely works and only looks cool on tv

  • Alexandria Goddard

    The prosecutor is going ot recuse herself as she is friendly with the families of these kids. The whole town knew for TWO weeks before anyone was even arrested.

     

    I know the Chief of Police. I used to hang out with him – dated his partner for years. My concern is that because the football team there is SO important that this is going to be buried.

  • Joey Ortega

    All the more reason to run with it. Want me to approach the the chief and DA so that I can be the bad guy?

     

    Walking out. Text my phone.

So much for the mythology that Joey Ortega did nothing to help Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard begin an honest investigative report on what he believed at the time – based on Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard’s misunderstanding of the facts – was a potentially mishandled rape case. What we now know is that Steubenville authorities already had the information that they needed and that  the case well in hand before Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard decided to use this case to her advantage.

I encourage you to go back and read Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s timeline which, again, is well documented against what Alexandria “Prinnie” Goddard claims in terms of “nothing being done” until she began blogging about the case then spinning it in the direction she preferred, e.g. anti-football and anti-law enforcement, the reasons of which still remain unanswered.

Something else that should be mentioned is that in all of the communications that I’ve read that were shared between Prinnie and Joey beginning August 25, 2012 through January 23, 2013, not one time – not once! – does Prinnie mention Jane Doe or that she is doing this “for Jane Doe.” What she does mention, however, is alleged (and still unsupported, I might add) “corruption” of Steubenville law enforcement and the power of Big Red football which she clearly despises. To reiterate: not one mention of Jane Doe.

Counting the Cost

Again, I ask readers how have the unsolicited-by-Jane-Doe-and-her-family mechanizations of Goddard and her associates helped Jane Doe receive justice? Simply stated, it hasn’t.  If anything, their involvement has complicated the case from the moment in which they became involved. Notice that I didn’t trivialize the word complicated by encasing it in quotations because it isn’t a joke. The meddlesome behavior of Goddard and her minions is, in my opinion, quite serious on multiple levels. AG DeWine was quite clear when he state in his post verdict news conference that “social media has re-victimized Jane Doe,” which is something that I have stated all along yet, somehow, this fact continues to fall on deaf ears. Proper handling and aftercare of trauma victims is critical to the healing process. Handled incorrectly, the risks of re-traumatization whether intended or not, is extremely high. It matters very little what the alleged “good intentions” were of Goddard and her associates, but, rather, what matters more is the potentially long-lasting negative affect their antics may have caused to Jane Doe, her family, and the entire community of Steubenville, Ohio.

Something that needs to be stated for those who do not understand is this: trauma sufferers cannot set themselves free from pain. It takes qualified intervention and facilitation to begin the healing process for trauma and abuse sufferers. Under what might be loosely termed “normal” circumstances of trauma occurrence, it can take up to six months to a year for symptoms of trauma stress to surface before they can effectively be dealt with. Because Jane Doe not only suffered the initial trauma of sexual assault coupled with unusual circumstances, and then was not allowed to process the events privately before being unwillingly hurtled into the national spotlight, her trauma symptoms will likely be compounded. Trauma symptoms for Jane Doe have also likely not even begun to surface. Only time will tell what the true fallout for her might be in the long run and in the near future.

No matter what the original intention of Goddard, Anonymous, McKee, and those who aided them (and I have my own suspicions about what might be the motives) it remains that re-victimizing Jane Doe is inexcusable. I contend that because of the actions of Goddard/Anonymous/McKee and those whose hearts may have been in the right place but clearly were not thinking empathetically and rationally, Jane Doe was left with absolutely zero space to process the sexual assault that she suffered in August of 2012. Not only that, she has now been intentionally re-victimized over and over and over again at the hands of social media that blatantly refuses to acknowledge and respect personal boundaries. Just so I’m clear, let me state in no uncertain terms to all reading this that the general public’s ‘right to know’ ends when it violates the personal privacy of others particularly when one’s personal privacy includes the details of experiencing a humiliating criminal act.

Re-victimization is not some catchy term we use because it sounds impressive. It is very real and it is very harmful in that it has the power to cause even greater harm to trauma sufferers than the initial trauma itself. The reason for this is actually very simple to understand even though revictimization itself is, in reality, a complex process. Taken down to its basic structure, when trauma is experienced the person in crises is feeling the information and not merely thinking about it or processing it intellectually. Unlike those who observe trauma from an outside perspective, the person who experiences the trauma in the flesh re-experiences the traumatic event repeatedly. As a result, the risk of reinforcing trauma and compounding the harm is extraordinarily high. Blatant disregard for a rape victim’s privacy has similar if not the same psychological effects as first order assault at the hands of the victim’s assailant(s). Disregard of a rape victim’s needs immediately after assault and in the months thereafter may not only delay the healing process but can also cause significant re-traumatization which may permanently impair the victim’s ability to recover.

As a quick aside before I go any further, let me state that it is well documented that persons who witness traumatic events are equally at risk for suffering the effects of trauma stress as persons who actually experience the traumatic event although to a somewhat lesser degree although it is difficult to quantify the effects of trauma stress because trauma experience is individual to the individual. Resiliency is a complex issue which is why it is difficult to predict who may or may not suffer more greatly in terms of experienced trauma. Not only does witnessing someone else experience trauma also create traumatic stress for certain persons it can also have a desensitizing effect on those who choose to view others pain as entertainment. As you can see, trauma is a very complicated issue and should never ever be treated as a joke or as incidental. Don’t even get me started on secondary traumatic stress for case workers!

Moving back to Jane Doe and her very real first person experience, it is important to address how certain victims experience stress. Particularly where sexual assault is concerned, trauma is experienced by the whole person and not just the body, as if just the body was any kind of consolation. For those reactionary soles who have come unglued and the previous statement, what I mean by just “just the body” is that the body experience although significant does not encompass the totality of how traumatic events such as sexual assault affect the whole person. Again, the body experience is only one component of sexual assault. Because of testimony provided in the Steubenville Rape case, it is now known that Jane Doe had no conscious memory of the sexual assault when it happened but this does not mean that her body lacked the ability to process the assault. To the contrary, very likely her body remembers what her mind never will which could complicate her healing process. Notice I stated “could” and not “will” because it is possible that that particular potential cannot be quantified.

The element of having no memory of the actual assault yet seeing portions of what has been portrayed with bias in the media could only serve to confuse what memory of the assault she might ever actually truly recall, and done so in such a way from a perspective wherein they had no creditable information. In other words, her experience has been tainted by social media calling into question what actually happened and when. How confusing it must be for her to see images of herself which she cannot on her own remember coupled with a false narrative carefully designed by people she doesn’t even know. That aspect of her particular experience is complex enough without the added issue of having to see the video of related events portrayed over and over again against her will by supposedly well meaning social and mainstream media who wanted to “help” her.  It has been stated clearly by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Asst. Attorney General and Special Prosecutor in this case, Marianne Hemmeter, and Prosecutor Jane Hanlin who is the one who filed the charges in the first place before the involvement of social media and Anonymous, that Jane Doe didn’t want the “help” of these people. In fact, Jane Doe didn’t even want to press charges. I am addressing this for a specific reason.

Even if Jane Doe’s case had never been thrust into the national spotlight, dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault trauma would be difficult enough to deal with due to the fact that the already over-stimulated nervous system needs to time to calm down after such an experience. Even in the best of circumstances, insofar as that’s possible related to trauma experience, finding a new “normal” takes time and is a very tedious task. In Jane Doe’s case she has been in a chronic state of revictimization at the hands of social media and Anonymous over and over and over again without any regard for how it would affect her in a very real and tangible sense. In short, she has had little, if any, time and space to remove herself from the limelight of national attention in order to reach a place of calm from a biological perspective. Even now, some six weeks after the verdict she is still dealing with national attention compounded by even more victimization almost immediately after the verdict by two girls who threatened her in relation to the case outcome. So the abuse of Jane Doe continues, intended or not. Carelessness in revictimization cannot be excused away with a cursory “that wasn’t my intention,” but now I think that we are beginning to see the true intention and it is far from altruistic.

I’ve stated this before and I will state it again: if I were Jane Doe’s mother I would be furious at social media, Anonymous, and those who aided them for insinuating themselves into my daughter’s very private pain and then exploiting her all over the Internet. What would make it so much worse for me if I were Jane Doe’s mother comes from knowing that my daughter was used as a pawn in a game to settle a personal score or to derive fame from all the media attention. The thoughts that would be going through my mind if this had happened to my child would be, “What right do these people have to exploit the very painful-to-look-at images of my daughter all over the Internet, and how can they possibly think that this somehow helps her, particularly when authorities were already appropriately and quietly addressing the crime? Did any of them bother to ask our permission to be involved?”

In closing, I ask again, where was the focus in the Steubenville case where Goddard, Anonymous, McKee, and those who aided them are concerned? Actions have consequences and it isn’t enough in the aftermath to imply flippantly and as an effort to distance oneself from the painful results “…harming Jane Doe was never the intention so [I, we, they] cannot be responsible for the unintended consequences.” To those who seem to think this way let me just state that not only can you be held responsible for the “unintended consequences” but that I sincerely hope you are held responsible in every legal sense possible. In the Steubenville Rape case, was it ever truly about Jane Doe? No. I think that clearly, it was not. Judging by their own actions it is quite apparent that the focus was, and always has been, on them and literally on the backs of Jane Doe as well as the convicted, and the entire town of Steubenville. As evidenced by their own behavior the entire focus in bringing “awareness” to the case appears to have served what I think might be two clear purposes, at least for Goddard: first, I think she has a score to settle within the town of Steubenville and she used this case as a platform for that purpose; and, second, I think this case was used intentionally as a catalyst for both Goddard and McKee to gain fame. I could be wrong about that and if proven wrong I will gladly admit it. For now, I think I’m on the right course. There are very real consequences to taking advantage of someone else’s pain for your own personal agenda and gain. It’s more than sick; it’s diabolical abuse which should not be ignored.

~Amy

This and Amy’s other articles can be found here:

http://notyourplaything.com

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About behindtheyellowtape

Joey Ortega started his investigative career early at the age of 18 working as an apprentice investigator for local detectives. He started out doing insurance fraud investigations and background investigations. Proving adept in the areas surveillance and information gathering, Joey continued to seek further investigative challenges. From there he went on to do internal investigations for a number of companies that include; Sears, Roebuck Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, and K-mart. He was largely responsible for investigating issues of internal theft, embezzlement, workers comp fraud, and crime ring investigations. His success eventually earned him a position as a national investigator for a cellular chain, investigating crime rings on a national level. Trained in the Reid technique (interviewing/interrogation), Joey was able to gain confessions consistently without a single prosecution ever being challenged in court. Throughout his career as an internal investigator Joey continued to work for various private investigative agencies. Moving away from insurance fraud, Joey began developing his skills in the areas of criminal defense investigation, fidelity investigation, missing person’s investigations, and stalker investigations. It was the area of stalker investigations that Joey began to discover his passion for computer crime investigations. Having to learn quickly how to trace harassing and threatening emails, Joey began see that this is where the future of crime and justice was heading and decided to throw himself deeply into the subject. As a result, Joey’s clientele began to include those who were victims of internet fraud and cyber attacks. Joey is also the co-founder of The Ullemeyer Group, Inc. an investigative and training firm based in Santa Barbara, California that specializes in forensic training and consulting.
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