A lot has been made in the news today about a story out of Ohio where a woman has been indicted for livestreaming the alleged rape of her 17-year-old friend on the mobile livestreaming app Periscope. 18-year-old Marina Alexeevna Lonina is accused of broadcasting the alleged rape of her female friend by 29-year-old Raymond Boyd Gates. A lot should be made of the story as it shows just how little we care for the lives of others in our society as we take joy in transmitting the brutal violation of a young girl. However while the media seems to be focused on Lonina let’s not lose sight of the fact that Boyd is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl. He is equally if not more culpable then his cohort.
Unfortunately this is not the first online broadcast of a sexual assault. Back before livestreaming apps there was a website called Stickam. It allowed users to host a chat room while livestreaming from their webcams. It had a private room feature that allowed just about anything to be broadcast without moderation. In 2009 Johnathon Richard Hock of Surprise, Arizona, was arrested for broadcasting the sexual assault of a female friend on Stickam. Instead of coming to the defense of the victim many members of the Stickam community took up the defense of Hock instead. Hock was eventually sentenced to a paltry 2 1/2 years behind bars and Stickam has since closed its doors. The only difference between now and then is that now the cameras are smaller, more portable and more ubiquitous. I’m personally surprised this hasn’t happened more often. At least in Periscope’s defense it does have a policy against streaming explicit content.
But getting back to my original point while we’re being outraged at Lonina for broadcasting the rape let’s not allow the actions of the actual rapist be lost in the noise.
UPDATE 4/15/2016: The pair have pleaded not guilty however this is how shallow we’ve become as a society…
In court Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said Lonina told police she was Periscoping the alleged incident to keep her friend from being assaulted, but got caught up by all the likes the she was getting. He says at one point she even asked her followers “What should I do now?”
If you have to ask what should you do while your friend is being raped then you need to be removed from society and anybody who ‘liked’ this on Periscope should join her.
UPDATE 10/26/2016: Two weeks ago, Gates was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to rape. Lonina is scheduled to appear in court in mid-December.
UPDATE 2/14/2017: Lonina was sentenced yesterday to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of obstructing justice.