At Least One Steubenville Teen Did The Right Thing By Texting ‘You Are Dead Wrong’

By  | 

shutterstock_109897406I’m sure there are many teenagers who witnessed the events of August 11th and 12th where an intoxicated girl vomited in the street and had her peers offer bystanders $3 to piss on her and were appalled by it. I’m sure a lot of these kids were totally freaked out if they were sent explicit photographs of the victim in this case naked and passed out on the ground. Maybe they told their parents. Maybe they were afraid of being ostracized by their friends and they didn’t know who they could turn to. Maybe they were afraid if they did come forward they would be benched from playing sports, or teased, or bullied by members of the community who feel that football is the end all and be all of life.

I know that not all of the teens in Steubenville are bad kids. Some of them weren’t even present at these parties. Some of them are focused on getting excellent grades in school and doing community service in order to get their college applications in order. I’ve spoken to many parents in Steubenville who have teenagers, kids who weren’t present at the parties and who have voiced concern about the case to their parents, who have expressed dismay and sadness that something like this has happened, who have expressed fear over how what probably started out as a “fun night” went horribly, horribly wrong, with at least three teens in this case who will have their lives changed forever. At the end of the trial this is what we are left with, just kids. Kids who may have made truly awful choices who I am sure would do anything to take it all back. A girl who will go on and live her life but who will always feel at least somewhat victimized by having her naked images uploaded to the internet and being called a “whore” by friends and strangers alike. But there was at least one kid in Steubenville who had the bravery to testify in court yesterday who gave me pause that yeah, there were good kids involved who spoke out against the incidents. From

Later Thursday, long after the reading of the texts left the court shocked and aghast, a final witness of the night was called. It was nearly 8 p.m. and Steubenville’s downtown was dark and desolate, but the prosecution wanted to get Shawn McGhee, an 18-year-old local who is currently a freshman at Campbellsville University in Kentucky, where he is on the wrestling team.

McGhee is Richmond’s cousin. He called Mays “one of my best friends.” When asked by special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter how it felt to be a witness against people he’s so close to, McGhee said, simply: “It hurts.”

Yet McGhee, who was still in town last August before heading off to college, testified thate he saw the girl at a party earlier in the night. He believed, based on her slurring words and stumbling walk, that she was extremely drunk. So later in the evening, when the initial texts and pictures and rumors began flying about what Mays and Richmond were allegedly doing with her, he became enraged.

This, he knew, was wrong. So he borrowed a friend’s phone (his was out of power) and texted the following to Mays:

“This is Shawn, you are dead wrong. I’m going to choke the [expletive] out of you for that. You could go to jail for life for that. What the [expletive]. Shawn McGhee.”

Hemmeter asked McGhee why he sent that and other accusatory, confrontational texts to Mays.

“I saw how drunk she was,” he said.

Yes, it should be noted that if McGhee was smart enough to text Mays and tell him off he also should have called the cops or another adult to intervene, but at least this kid did something, and it’s remarkable because so many witnesses in this case have not come forward of their own volition to “do the right thing.” I hope his parents are proud of him, because I am.

I hope we hear more stories like this as the trial draws to a close. I hope more kids are willing to come forward and are honest about what they witnessed that night so justice can be served. And I hope that parents are all over are using this horrible Steubenville case as a way they can talk to their own kids about underage drinking, about rape, about what to do if they witness one of their friends intoxicated and how they can keep each other safe. If we get anything out of Steubenville, it should be that we remind our kids that if they do witness a girl or boy in trouble they do what they can to help them, instead of just sending some “LOL-ing” text messages to their friends.

(photo: Kostenko Maxim/Shutterstock)