cover image Roll Red Roll: Rape, Power, and Football in the American Heartland

Roll Red Roll: Rape, Power, and Football in the American Heartland

Nancy Schwartzman with Nora Zelevansky. Hachette, $29 (288p) ISBN 978-0-306-92436-1

Filmmaker Schwartzman’s debut, a follow-up to her 2019 documentary Roll Red Roll, is a searing account of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case and its aftermath. In 2012, a 16-year-old girl was assaulted by members of the town’s high school football team, and pictures, descriptions, and jokes about the crime went viral as the teens posted to Twitter and Facebook. The girl, who was drunk and possibly drugged, and her family only learned of it via social media. Parents and school officials closed ranks to delete texts and posts in an effort to impede the investigation. But true-crime blogger Alexandria Goddard and vigilante hacker group Anonymous posted everything they dug up online, and the Steubenville case became notorious as the first rape case in the U.S. widely documented with images on the internet. Two team members were convicted in juvenile court and sentenced to one and two years for the attack, but the culpable adults were never convicted of obstruction or collusion, and the author concludes the town’s boys will be boys mentality remains the same today. Schwartzman’s sense of outrage fuels the narrative, but never overwhelms it. This tragic cautionary tale deserves a wide audience. Agent: Lucinda Halpern, Lucinda Literary. (July)