Moral Low Ground


Sheriff Frank Abdalla Addresses Protesters During Occupy Steubenville Rally

An Ohio sheriff accused of protecting a successful high school football program from rape allegations addressed protesters who gathered in Steubenville on Saturday.

Returers reports that Jefferson County Sheriff Frank Abdalla said that no more suspects will be charged in connection with the rape of a 16-year-old girl during a night of alcohol-fueled parties in August.

Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two 16-year-old football players at Steubenville High School, have been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and raping the girl. Last week, the hacktivist group #KnightSec leaked a video of 16-year-old Michael Nodianos of Steubenville and other teens laughing and joking about the rape and implicating Mays and Richmond in the attack.

“I’m not going to stand here and try to convince you that I’m not the bad guy,” Sheriff Abdalla told the crowd of around 1,000 demonstrators at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Saturday. “You’ve already made up your mind,” he said as he was loudly booed.

Abdalla, who said he’s dedicated his 28-year police career to bringing rapists to justice, was wearing a teal ribbon in support of sexual assault victims.

The demonstration was also addressed by several victims of sexual violence, as well as others concerned that justice is not being served in the Steubenville case.

“There are good officers on the police force, there are good sheriff’s deputies and there are good kids on the football team,” one protester told the crowd. “But there’s an injustice here. There are lies and injustice and cover-ups.”

The Occupy Steubenville protest was organized by the hacktivist group #Anonymous, which is closely associated with #KnightSec. At one point, Abdalla, who vowed he was “coming after” Anonymous for its role in leaking the identities of the minors accused of the rape, was actually interviewed by the masked member emceeing the protest. When asked what he thought about the Nodianos video, Abdallah replied that it was “disgusting.”

But Abdalla angered many with his decision not assume control of the investigation from Steubenville police, who are accused of protecting Steubenville High’s beloved Big Red football program, winner of three state championships since 2006.

The city of Steubenville has started a website called Steubenville Facts in an attempt to dispel notions that “everyone in Steubenville is acting or is like the individuals that are involved in the case” and that the town of 18,000 “is run by football.”

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