For a once proud steel town, no matter where you go or where you look, the Steubenville rape case has gripped an entire nation. Now the question becomes how does the city heal?
"The fact that the city has responded through SteubenvilleFact.org with a positive message about this city, of our government, how our police department handled the investigation and our response is that we are doing everything possible. We don't condone the actions of the teenagers," says City Manager Cathy Davison.
Officials and some residents say Steubenville has been unfairly targeted with accusations of corruption. Others say they are only shining a spotlight on an alleged sexual assault by two Steubenville football players that has now turned into a national outrage. But the city is working to develop programs for residents to help heal and rebuild their image.
"Mayor Mucci and Councilwoman Angela Suggs have been meeting with mental health providers and agencies within our community that are going to put together resources to help our community heal," says Davison.
Jefferson Behavioral Health, Family Services, Jefferson Recovery and Prevention Board and other private providers are offering their services to residents who may be having a hard time with the negative attention.
Davison says that although this is a terrible thing that has happened to Steubenville, it has also taught everyone a lesson, such as how to have an open dialogue on how to treat people and respect, that sexual assault is a horrible and offensive action and how we need to educate our children and our youth about respect and proper use of social media.
Unfortunately, there is now a negative connotation placed on the city of Steubenville and people who have grown up there and moved away.
"It's sad because the people that say they're from Steubenville, they're proud of being from here and we should be proud of being from Steubenville and our community should not be judged on the actions of a few," says Davison.
The city is now looking to move forward and create a positive image and remind residents of the community that Steubenville really is.
"One of the things that's interesting on our unofficial logo, the tag line is "Where You Always Have a Home" and I truly believe that's the feeling in our community and maybe that's something we can use with pride in Steubenville because we truly always have a home here no matter if you move away and come back, it's always home," says Davison.
The Most Reverend Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville released a statement Thursday regarding the Steubenville rape case. The statement reads:
"In recent months, the Steubenville community has attracted local and national interest in a context no community desires. However unwelcome, we cannot and should not ignore our attention to these events and those
involved. As we approach the court date for the case of alleged rape, hurt, shame, and concern are abundant among all involved. Sides have been taken and emotions are visible for all to see. Our community is in need of justice and healing as best as can be determined by our civil
means," Bishop Monforton said.
"Silence has proven an ineffective salve to ease the pain and suffering of social or familial wounds. In these troubling days, self-reflection and prayer can be the most effective catalysts to guide our conduct and to nurture healing. As members of the human family, let us place ourselves in God's presence, requesting him to guide all involved in this case and the entire community of Steubenville through his mercy and his healing love. God will not abandon us and only wishes that we remember to turn to him in this and in all difficult times."
There will be a peaceful rally on Saturday at Noon in Jim Wood Park called "Stand Up for Youth."