Roll Red Roll is the chant for Steubenville, Ohio’s Big Red high school football team. It’s also the name of the award-winning “true-crime thriller, which centers on the 2012 sexual assault case involving a 16-year-old girl” that shook the nation. 

Film Synopsis – At a pre-season party in small-town Steubenville, Ohio, a heinous crime took place: the assault of a teenage girl by members of the beloved high school football team. What transpired would garner national attention and result in the sentencing of two key offenders. But it was the disturbing social media evidence uncovered by crime blogger Alexandria Goddard that provoked the most powerful questions about the collusion of teen bystanders, teachers, parents and coaches to protect the assailants and discredit the victim. As it painstakingly reconstructs the night of the crime and its aftermath, ‘Roll Red Roll’ uncovers the ingrained rape culture at the heart of the incident, acting as a cautionary tale about what can happen when teenage social media bullying runs rampant and adults look the other way. The film unflinchingly asks: “Why didn’t anyone stop it?”

In a statement, the film’s director Nancy Schwartzman shared: “Roll Red Roll is a story that I felt compelled to tell. I went to a high school not unlike Steubenville High School. I felt like I knew these kids… As a sexual assault survivor, the behavior wasn’t unfamiliar to me, but the social media platform was new. I wanted to know what empowered boys to talk about rape so casually, and broadcast it so publicly. It was all out there. That’s what made it so shocking. The incident was planned and witnessed and an entire conversation was happening on social media about it. Prosecutors had to sift through over 400,000 text messages and hundreds of tweets to figure out what was evidence and what was bravado. I read the text messages and social media posts, and they chilled me. 

“In Roll Red Roll we see young men acting with total privilege and without accountability. This wasn’t a “one-off” incident. This was a pattern of behavior that went beyond just a juvenile criminal trial and led to a Grand Jury investigation of school officials. There should have been no question about what happened, and yet: the entire town was divided.”

The documentary airs tonight, June 17, 2019, on PBS. For more info on finding a screening or hosting a screening near you, visit rollredrollfilm.org