Rape charge: the one thing Devoe Torrence couldn't juke.
In January, Scene invaded Massillon in an attempt to take the town’s pulse on the ongoing police investigation of underage sex crimes
involving its Washington High School. What we relayed was a town swirling with rumors and speculation as it anticipated a scandal that could rock its beloved high school football culture.
What we didn’t report was the one name that kept coming up as we asked townspeople what they had been hearing. It seems if you had two ears and ever got your haircut, went to school, or sat on a barstool in Massillon, you had heard of the involvement of the team’s star running back, Devoe Torrence. ...
Brother of Ohio State running back Devon Torrence, Devoe had already been awarded a scholarship to the college when he transferred to Massillon from Canton South for his senior year. As his name circulated as a potential suspect in the investigation, residents seemed to take solace in the fact that Torrence wasn’t born and bred in the town. “If the rumors are true,” said the father of a Massillon Tiger quarterback, “then the main character isn’t a true Massillon boy anyway.”
“It helps to soften the pang of guilt knowing this doesn’t come from us,” echoed Tim Todoran, of Tiger Rags, a memorabilia store.
While we avoided any specific implication of Torrence in the story, that didn’t stop sports gossip sites from using our story to reinforce rampant speculation as to his future at OSU
. And last Thursday, all the speculation was finally put to a halt when the indictments were handed down
, five months after the investigation as first reported. Where the Stark County prosecutors had hinted at charging up to 14 boys and men with felony rape charges, the blow was significantly softer: only four were charged with rape. Among them was, indeed, Devoe Torrence, who, as a 17-year old when the crimes were allegedly committed, could face imprisonment until 21 and lifelong status as a sex offender. The Canton Repository responded by penning a mournful editorial titled “What if Torrence Had Stayed at Canton South?”
It seems a little astounding to blame statutory rape of a 12-year old on a school transfer — and also to identify an alleged rapist's athletic career as the victim — but then again, what do I know about Massillon?
-- Gus Garcia-Roberts