Of all the stories with a Louisville connection, we wouldn’t have bet on the Savannah Dietrich saga to go national.
Doesn’t the Wall Street Journal know about Barbara Shanklin and that Newburg Festival?
But Savannah Deitrich has become a national story essentially because the 17-year-old faced jail time after using social media to rat out two teen attackers, thwarting the judicial system, which tried to suppress the story in the age of tweets and viral videos.
The Huffington Post, of all places, advances the story through an interview with an attorney representing one of the two Trinity High School athletes convicted in the case.
(Though the post leaves out the tie to the Roman Catholic boys school and sports power.)
Dietrich naming her attackers ruined his client’s life, attorney David Meija told HuffPo reporter David Lohr. Meija’s version of reality: The girl is lying, though Meija said he can’t reveal what really happened. And Meija added that none of this would have happened without that damned Internet.
“He’s had to move,” David Mejia, the attorney for one of the attackers, told The Huffington Post. “He has lost all the potential that was there. He was attending high school and was kicked out. He was on course to a scholarship to an Ivy League school to play sports and that may be jeopardized. He’s in therapy. He’s just overwhelmed and devastated by what started from the conduct of this young girl saying false things as she did.”
Deitrich accused the two boys of sexually assaulting her in August, 2011, taking smartphone photos of the attack, then posting them on the Internet.
A judge threatened her with contempt of court and jail time after she tweeted the boys’ names – a violation of court rules because the boys were juveniles.
In the HuffPo piece, Mejia seems to be arguing that men shouldn’t be held liable for their actions, which we suppose aligns his world view with the Jefferson County court:
Mejia said that his client is devastated and would like to move on with his life, but that the Internet has made that impossible. “I think it’s rather astonishing how the Internet changes everything,” he said. “Look at [Rep. Todd Akin], the politician from Missouri who was on the news a few days ago and made a comment about ‘legitimate rape.’ Those comments have now gone viral and he is ruined. Twenty years ago it would not have happened like this. These things just stream with enormous speed across the whole country.”
Courier-Journal reporter Jason Riley broke the story back in July. But our Curtis Morrison sussed out the Trinity High School connection. The prosecutor in the case, Paul W. Richwalsky, Jr., who Deitrich charges meted out a lenient sentence without her knowledge, is a Trinity alumnus.
Curtis’ take is that Richwalsky have been more interested in preserving the Trinity athletes’ reputations than seeking justice.