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Prosecute The Other Criminals

January 13, 2013
MIKE MYER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

If the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by two Steubenville High School students occurred in the manner law enforcement authorities report, some of those responsible have not been arrested yet. They bear enormous responsibility - and the crimes they committed are being repeated by others in our area every day.

Think about this: According to reports about what happened the night of Aug. 11-12, the two boys and the girl had been at a party, apparently at a private home. Alcohol was being consumed. The girl apparently drank enough that she lost consciousness. The two boys probably consumed substantial amounts of alcohol, too.

Now, here's the thing: Alcohol intoxication loosens inhibitions, dulls sensitivity to danger and wrecks one's judgment. Many adults learn to compensate for all that. Smart people make it a point not to drink excessively when they are in or may encounter situations in which diminished capacity can result in them making decisions harmful to themselves and others.

Not many teenagers are mature enough to handle drinking that way. Some do exceedingly dangerous things - harming themselves and others by behavior that would not have occurred had they been sober.

You get the idea. Would the alleged rape have occurred had an alcohol-soaked party not occurred? There's a good chance it would not have happened, though there's no excuse for rape.

Where'd the kids involved get the booze? Who allowed them to use a residence for a party at which alcohol was served?

Someone - more than likely more than one adult - set these teenagers up for disaster.

At some point the identities of the adults involved needs to be determined, if it has not already. And then they need to be prosecuted.

This isn't the first time giving teenagers alcohol and a place to party has resulted in a tragedy. Just a few years ago in Moundsville, a party ended in the death of a 17-year-old boy from alcohol poisoning. The homeowner was prosecuted and sent to prison.

Last summer a Wheeling man allegedly hosted a party at his home for some children. The Ohio County Sheriff's Department found out about it when a deputy took a 15-year-old boy high on alcohol and "bath salts" into custody. At the time of his apprehension, he was staggering into traffic on a busy street. He was carrying, not wearing, his pants. Just one preoccupied motorist could have turned the situation into a tragedy.

This kind of activity occurs all the time in the Northern Panhandle and East Ohio.Yet some people in our area never learn.

Recently, Bellaire police heard complaints about businesses selling alcohol to minors. Six bars and stores were checked; four sold booze to an underage buyer.

What are these people thinking?

They aren't.

Myer can be reached at: Myer@news-register.net.

 
 

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