Attorneys mull new venue in Ohio football sex case

Potential witnesses for two high school football players facing rape accusations in eastern Ohio have been threatened and pressured not to testify and some are reluctant to come forward, attorneys for the players said Monday as they consider whether to ask the trial be moved and closed to the public.
Associated Press
Jan 7, 2013

 

At issue is publicity surrounding the case and the concerns some witnesses have that their names and addresses may be published through social media and on the Internet.

The current juvenile court judge overseeing the case scheduled next month in Steubenville has previously declined a request to close the proceedings.

"They are reluctant to sacrifice their college career, their reputation, or their otherwise good standing in whatever community they may be found for fear of being vilified, and certain personal information finding its way on the Internet," said Walter Madison, an attorney for 16-year-old defendant Ma'Lik Richmond.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is overseeing the case's prosecution, said the decision will be up to the judge. He declined to comment on the attorneys' concerns.

"There is obviously a lot going on in the social media and there's a lot going on in the mainstream media, but ultimately this case will be decided by a juvenile judge who will listen to the evidence, and the case will be presented no differently than it would in any other case," DeWine said.

Brian Duncan, an attorney for the other 16-year-old defendant, Trent Mays, also said Monday he's considering a similar request.

"We just want to make sure our client and the other defendant have their proper day in court," Duncan said.

The two boys are set for trial next month in juvenile court in Steubenville, a city of about 18,000, on charges that they raped a 16-year-old girl in August. Their attorneys have denied the charges in court.

Public interest in the case increased with circulation online last week of an unverified video, more than 12 minutes long, that purportedly shows another young man joking about the accuser. The video apparently was released by hackers who allege more people were involved and should be held accountable.

Over the weekend, city authorities launched a website to combat misperceptions about the case, including the allegation that the football team has an unusual sway over the city.

The site, sponsored by Steubenville city and police officials, explains that only a handful of police officers attended local schools and that the city manager herself is not even from Ohio. Its launch followed the hiring of a consultant who's helping the city handle a barrage of media attention sparked by the case.

As the investigation continues, it has spurred heated commentary online. Some support the defendants and question the character of the teenage girl, while others allege a cover-up or contend more people should be charged.

The latter group includes hacker-activists associating under the Anonymous and KnightSec labels who point to comments they say were posted around the time of the alleged attack on social media by people who are not charged.

 

Comments

reese

This story is all over the internet. Those involved didn't worry about videotaping the "activities" and sharing it on the internet before they were caught. They didn't worry about demeaning and degrading the character of the teenage female victim. Sorry, but apparently, the participants thought that was funny. What they are now experiencing is the result of their own disgustingly cruel attack, whether they directly participated in it,taped it, made no attempt to try to stop it and shared it with the world. The details that are out there (unverified) are horrifying and shocking...that the accused apparently were so caulous and emboldened to think this was okay and that they could do this and not be caught.

vicariouslyAlive

these idiots put pictures of themselves barbarizing this girl on twitter... should be a pretty open and shut case when there's dozens of picture, hundreds of comment and status updates on twitter, and video of this whole thing going on... it's pretty hard to say it didn't happen when they basically publicized that they were doing it.

what bothers me most is how flagrantly they flaunted their criminal act... as if they were brought up to think that because of their status in scool that they were untouchable...

sickening.

wiredmama222

The attorney for the girl and for one of the boys was on Pierce Morgan tonight. The girls attorney said they had to hold up on the case because "something came up in the case". The school went into lockdown today because of a shooting threat. The one attorney for one of the boys said he did not rape the girl and had nothing to do with the taping of, producing of or filming of any of the actions of this entire mess. He was just "there". So I don't know what is going on. The girl's lawyer looked stricken, frankly, like he got some really bad news about the girl he wasn't expecting. I don't know if she is ill or if she had done something wrong that the boy's attorney found out about, but whatever it was, they are holding off on the trial. He made a big deal about "trying the victim" when he was talking.

Whatever the reason, these two boys should NEVER have done what they did. I don't care if you are present at a rape, you should have stopped it. Even if they had sex before, when someone isn't conscious, you stop the sex. You don't video tape it for everyone to see. The isn't "girls gone wild". They defiled a 16 year old girl and laughed their heads off about it. There is little to no respect, it seems, from guys to girls and vice versa any more. It has to stop.

What do they teach their kids now days? To act like animals because you can put it on facebook or twitter and be a star for your fifteen minutes of fame??? Wow, hope you enjoy the other 20 years of living in shame you get that goes with it. Because that is exactly what you are going to get. Some parents better start teaching that part and PDQ! Apparently they don't.

It amazes both my husband and I that the RESPECT word is really lacking in the training of todays kids. I guess that went out with the words please and thank you.

luvblues2

Really, wired? Piers Morgan? He is a Brit. What can he add to US political issues besides a Brit spin? To myself, he is nothing but a one sided commentary mouthpiece, as are most 24 hr news show hosts.

Methinks that you watch too much 24 hr news shows flipping back and forth hoping to find that one lil tidbit that the others have left out. I was like that for a time. Addicted to news channels.