Serena Williams on Steubenville rape case: ‘It could have been worse, she’s lucky’
Serena Williams made some controversial remarks in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine when discussing the Steubenville High School (Ohio) rape case that gained national attention last year. In March, high school football players Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays were convicted of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl last summer who was incapacitated by alcohol.
Richmond, who was found guilty of using his fingers to penetrate the victim while she was unconscious, was sentenced to the minimum one year in a juvenile detention facility. Mays was given the same sentence but an additional year of detainment after he was charged with disseminating pornographic pictures of her. In her Rolling Stone interview, Williams wondered if the punishment was fair.
“Do you think it was fair, what they got?” Serenas asked. “They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember?
“It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
Williams probably should have kept those comments to herself. Should the girl have been drinking in excess at age 16? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean anyone deserves to be sexually assaulted and publicly humiliated through social media. Coming from a powerful figure in women’s sports, Serena’s comments are even more disturbing as someone who serves as a role model to young women.
Richmond and Mays received the minimum sentence for their heinous acts. What they did could haunt the victim for the rest of her life. Williams is entitled to her opinion, but implying publicly that the girl may have been even partially at fault is incredibly inappropriate.
Williams later apologized via a statement on her official website.
“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.
I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”
What I “supposedly said?” You’re already in it deep enough, Serena. Going down the “I was misquoted” road probably isn’t going to improve the situation.