PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A throng of protestors showed up for “Occupy Steubenville” Saturday afternoon.
The protestors flooded the steps of the Jefferson County, Ohio, courthouse after accusations that members of the Big Red football team allegedly raped a teenage girl in mid-August.
The case has sparked national attention and much controversy, but is also unprecedented in its use of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook as possible sources of evidence.
At Saturday’s rally, many people held up signs, one reading “we want justice.”
Various people stood on a podium and shared personal stories, including several young women who shared their own experiences with rape, and called for action in the ongoing investigations.
One 18-year-old girl shared her experience of being raped by a family friend.
“Yeah, I partied,” she said, “but that was no excuse for him to rape me.”
At one point, protestors chanted together “no means no.”
Some participants shared graphic stories and several parents urged the community to take action in their own homes.
“We need to teach our children right from wrong,” one man said. “Hold them accountable.”
After about 45 minutes, Steubenville Sheriff Fred Abdalla, whose police department has been accused of not pursing the case aggressively enough, spoke to the crowd, but was met with boos.
“I’m not going to stand here and try to convince you that I’m not the bad guy,” Abdalla said.
Abdalla said his police department has arrested more than 250 people for sexual abuse of the past 28 years.
He continued to say that children are always taught to be wary of strangers, but cautioned that sexual abusers are often people they know.
“Not one, not one was a stranger,” he said. “We arrested fathers and stepfathers and boyfriends.”