Steubenville: After the Party's Over

Part 1: Two football players, a drunk girl -- and a local story becomes a national scandal.
7:56 | 03/22/13

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Transcript for Steubenville: After the Party's Over
Few had ever heard of steubenville, ohio, before this. But now, the country knows of this town, and tonight, this case is still exploding. For the first time, right here, you'll see tapes of police interviews that reveal what teenage witnesses saw and heard, some of whom did nothing. In fact, 16 of them still tonight refusing to cooperate with authorities. But if they're not talking, their cell phones are. In what might be a courtroom first, a case almost entirely pieced together by social media. During the crime, many did not step up to help, but nearly all got out their cell phones and started snapping pictures and tweeting. Over 400,000 pieces of evidence were examined in this case, from just 13 cell phones. Teenagers living their lives through a cell phone and ruining any number of lives in the process. This week, a swift verdict in a trial that split a small town in middle america. Both of the defendants are guilty. Reporter: Emotional apologies, too little, too late. I'm sorry to put you guys through this. I just -- Reporter: Tonight, new voices and new knowledge. The events of one night casting a white hot spotlight on a crisis in america. This is not just a steubenville problem. This is a nationwide problem. Reporter: Sex crimes being recorded instead of reported. Think about all the bystanders. Reporter: Nobody tried to stop what was going on. Certainly nobody tried to help her. Exactly. Decision-making completely gone out the window. Reporter: You used the language that she was treated like a toy that night. I'm not going to mince words. That's how she was treated. Reporter: The steubenville, ohio, rape trial would expose the not so secret lives of teenagers in today's digital world. Much of the case is focused on cell phone pictures. Posted online. Shocking tweets. Reporter: And underground of lurid texts and tweets. High school students posting their own drunken, reckless and criminal behavior online. Without the social media, it never would've come to light. Reporter: You could not have prosecuted this without the social media, right? No. Our victim wouldn't have known what happened to her. It's social media, it's cyber bullying, it's sexual assault. Here it all is in sort of one perfect storm. Reporter: And for parents, a harsh lesson. This experience for us has been like waking up in a nightmare. It's a story for everybody who has kids in middle school, in high school and in college. Those parties are taking place, last night, they'll be taking place tonight and people need to step up and learn from this. Reporter: Steubenville typically makes headlines for touchdowns, not trials. A football-frenzied town straight out of "friday night lights." We're going to play fast and we're going to take what we can get, gentlemen, you understand me? Let's show them what we got. Reporter: Up until recently, steubenville's claim to fame was being the birthplace of dean martin and former porn star trrds. In the middle of this once thriving, now struggling city of 18,000, nestled on the eastern border of ohio, stands harding stadium, the crown jewel of this former steel town. What is it like in this town on game day? It's a very exciting time. The fans are loud. The band's playing. It's a lot of hype. Everyone's there at the stadium. It's packed. Reporter: People here say the fortunate few who make this elite high school squad with nine state championships to its name aren't just players, they're demigods. When you play football at steubenville, people knoll your name. I mean, when you walk down the street, they see you and they know your name. Reporter: Names like quarterback trent mapes and wide receiver ma'lik richmond. Names now known for the being at the center of this story. But they had been known as sophomore standouts on the team. The games are -- they're like college or pro games. Reporter: In his one and only television interview, conducted before he was convicted of a heinous crime, ma'lik richmond told me what it was like to pull on that big red jersey. Lots of kids in town grow up hoping, wishing one day they could play for big red football. Were you one of those kids? Yes, I was. Reporter: And then there's trent. His father brian, a football coach, says there's football in his son's dna. One of his dreams since he was a kid was to play quarterback for steubenville. Reporter: It was a dream that for these boys was coming true. In the waning days of summer, LAST AUGUST 11th, BIG RED HAS A Scrimmage game. Ma'lik and trent are on the field. It's a preview for what's coming up, you know? It's -- Reporter: A chance to scope out the talent. Absolutely. We have promising athletes coming up. Let's see how they perform. Reporter: And ma'lik and trent both put on impressive preseason performances. How did the game go? It was good. I had two touchdowns and the fae screaming and cheering. And I was just thinking, like, "i just can't wait for the season to start." Reporter: For each of those touchdowns the team mascot man 0-war breathes a six-foot stream of fire into the night sky over steubenville. But a very different firestorm is about to engulf ma'lik, en trt, the team and the entire town. After that scrimmage, a raucous post game party ensoups in an unsupervised house, where apparent it will everyone's got a drink in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Was there a lot of celebrating among the football team? Yes. We was really like discussing, like, we're going to win the state championship. Reporter: Joining in the revelry with trent and ma'lik that night, is a girl. 16 years old, an honor student and a soccer player from a high school across the river in west virginia. She had her arm wrapped around me and one hand like, on my chest. And she was, like, we were just talking. Reporter: The night begins with harmless high school flirting. But over the next several hours, there will be be drinking, party hopping and terrible crimes committed. The shocking charges? The girl was sexually assaulted after she got too drunk to consent. While onlookers take cell phone pictures and videos of it all. Ma'lik and trent are the boys accused. Ten days after that night, the boys are arrested, accused not aving intercourse, but penetrating the girl with their fingers while she was substantially impaired. By ohio law, an act that kons tuments rape. The victim says that she woke up the next morning in this room with no clothing on. And no memory of what happened. Even her parents first learn about the assault through social media. Where detectives say a treasure trove of digital evidence was left behind. Little do they know, someone else is also about to conduct an investigation of her own. Two players were arrested for rape, and, at that point, I'm like, big red football players, this is big news in steubenville. Reporter: Alexandria goddard, who used to live in steubenville, is determined to expose what happened. She starts digging. What she would uncover, degrading tweets, graphic photographs and one appalling youtube video would turn a local story into a national scandal. She is so raped right now. This is about to be on tv. She is dead. Get on the phone and call the police. That's what you do when you know of a crime. Reporter: You don't make a -- no, you don't make a video of it and put it on youtube where someone like me can find it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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