Two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio are under arrest for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl. The case has received national attention after evidence of the alleged attack first surfaced on social media. Alexandra Goddard blogs at Prinniefied.com and has been posting on this developing story. This morning she joins “Starting Point” to discuss her findings including a 12-minute video posted on YouTube showing several teens making jokes about the alleged rape.
Goddard says after becoming aware of the story she felt compelled to research it further because she “felt like because it was involving football players and there’s a culture [in Steubenville] that football is very important that there was probably a little more to the story than local media was reporting.” Goddard says she proceeded to sift through various twitter accounts where she found disturbing messages that laid out a timeline regarding the events that reportedly transpired on August 22, 2012. In particular Goddard says she came across the cache of a YouTube video that many people claimed did not exist. She adds the release of the 12-minute video which has garnered a response from both Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine proves that the video existed all along. She goes on to say that “some of the commentary that was going on by the person in it tells the horrific things that happened that night.”
On the topic of verification and authenticity of the tweets and videos posted on social media Goddard says the “person has identified themselves in the video. They’ve also identified others in the room who were allegedly involved and through the twitter accounts most of these kids were using their full names.”
Recently a defamation suit against Goddard by a football player and his parents regarding the case was dismissed. Goddard says however her investigation in Steubenville has “been for the most part very positive.” She adds that she has not been the recipient of any hate mail but admits there are some who are very “upset” by her pursuance of the case. Goddard says there are others however who have thanked her for bringing the case to light “because their local media just wasn’t providing enough coverage and they were coming to my blog for information.”
This morning, the surviving children of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut return to school for the first time since a gunman took 20 of their friends, and their innocence. Their new school building is a former middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe. School staff and volunteers have been working to re-create as much of the original classrooms as possible. The surviving teachers decided to rename the new school "Sandy Hook Elementary."
“Starting Point” speaks to a mother who can explain what it's like for parents and students returning to school after such a tragedy. She has also sent her child back to school after a mass shooting tragedy. Lori Haas's daughter Emily was shot twice but survived during the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting. Lori is now the Virginia organizer for the Coalition to End Gun Violence.
Lori reflects on the road to recovery Emily has faced. “It’s been a journey. There’s no denying that,” she says. “There’s ups and downs in the recovery, in the aftermath of a mass shooting. There's times when you have to deal with your post traumatic stress disorder and it may flare up at different times, it may recede at different times.”
Emily has since finished her degree, gotten married and is teaching school herself. Her mother says she and “the injured students stuck together quite a bit and were helpful to each other, and spent time together and a lot of time together, frankly, at the school, so that was a good for her.”
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