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Special grand jury resumes work

May 23, 2013
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - An Eastern Ohio grand jury examining whether other laws were broken in the case of a 16-year-old girl raped by two high school football players prepared to resume work today after a three-week break.

One of the key issues before the panel is whether adults like coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by Ohio law.

The panel met once, for three days, before adjourning earlier this month to allow investigators more time to collect evidence and conduct witness interviews.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is investigating the case, has said nothing is off the table for the grand jury. He announced its creation on March 17, the day a judge convicted the two players of raping the West Virginia girl in separate incidents after an alcohol-fueled party last summer.

The rape case has long been marked by allegations that more football players should have been charged and that police and prosecutors tried to cover up aspects of the case early on. Authorities counter that the two teens were arrested and charged within days of the attack.

Hacker activists helped propel coverage of the case and press allegations of a cover-up, including their reposting of a 12-minute Internet video made within hours of the attacks in which a former Steubenville student jokes about the victim and the attacks. The National Organization of Women has called on DeWine to charge that former student with failure to report a crime, while his attorney says he had no firsthand knowledge of the attacks.

The owners of the house where that video was made are among those who have been interviewed by investigators.

Three teen witnesses of the attacks, including a student who later filmed the 12-minute video with his phone, were granted immunity from prosecution by special judge Thomas Lipps to allow them to testify against the two players.

Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, was convicted of rape and sentenced to a year in the juvenile prison system. Trent Mays, 17, was convicted of rape and of using his phone to take a picture of the girl naked and sentenced to two years in juvenile detention.

Text messages introduced at trial suggested Steubenville's head football coach, Reno Saccoccia, may have known about the rape allegation early on.

The school district has said he won't be made available for comment until after the grand jury has finished its work.

 
 

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