STEUBENVILLE - A retired Hamilton County juvenile judge has been appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to preside over the cases of two Steubenville High School students charged in a sexual assault earlier this month.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor Wednesday informed Jefferson County Juvenile Court that Judge Thomas Raymond Lipps was appointed to the case.
Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr recused himself from the case on Monday.
Criminal charges officially were filed Friday morning against Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale charging him with one count of rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Also formally charged Friday was Ma'lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville, who faces one count of rape and one count of kidnapping.
The Jefferson County prosecutor's office has filed a motion in juvenile court for both juveniles to be bound over to adult court if probable cause is found they committed the crimes. If probable cause is found, the court will conduct a study to determine if the juveniles are amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile system.
Police began an investigation after parents came to the police station on Aug. 14 to report a sexual assault involving their daughter.
Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin also recused herself from the case Monday because she said she personally knows individuals involved in the investigation. Hanlin said two attorneys - Associate Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Associate Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby- from the Ohio Attorney General's Crimes Against Children unit have been appointed as special assistant prosecutors for the county.
Fred Abdalla Jr., Jefferson County Juvenile Court chief probation officer, said he is attempting to arrange a telephone conference call today between the judge, attorneys representing the juveniles and the attorney general's lawyers to set dates for future court hearings.
Lipps was one of three judges appointed by Gov. John Kasich in July to the Governor's Council on Juvenile Justice.
Among other duties, the council advises the Ohio Department of Youth Services on matters related to juvenile justice and the administration and implementation of federal grant programs that support state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts and juvenile justice system improvements, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Lipps retired in 2010 after serving 12 years on the bench and a total of 37 years as a juvenile court employee.