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Entries in steubenville (7)

Saturday
Mar232013

Exclusive: Steubenville Teens on Tape Describe Night of Sexual Assault

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- In videotaped police interviews from the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case that the public has not seen, police spoke to many of the teenage partiers who witnessed the 16-year-old victim getting more and more intoxicated.

“I could tell that she was gradually getting more drunk and worse throughout the night,” said Farrah Marcino, 16. “Just, like, that she couldn’t, like, she didn’t walk.”

“She was a mess,” said Anthony Craig, 18. “She wasn’t responding. ”

The question many are asking now may be: Why did Craig and others stand by and watch the victim being sexually assaulted rather than call for help? And why did they spread the assault around town, turning it into a social media event?

Craig told detectives that he took two pictures at the home where the assault occurred. Those photos were deleted and never recovered, but police did find two nude photos of the victim on high school football player Trent Mays’ cell phone.

On the night of the crime, tweets were posted and a YouTube video was made joking about it. An Instagram photo of Mays, 17, and fellow football player Ma’lik Richmond, 16, carrying the seemingly unconscious body of the victim was also uploaded.

Mays and Richmond were convicted of rape on Sunday for penetrating the victim with their fingers and sentenced to at least one year in a juvenile detention center.

“She was passed out,” Craig told detectives. “That’s when they picked her up, and they carried her out of the house.”

“She wanted to go with Trent. Like, we just kept trying to tell her: ‘You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to go with them,’” Marcino said. “I just let her do what she want[ed], which I understand was wrong.”

Investigators want to know how so many honor students, athletes and all-American kids could just stand by and let it all happen.

“Think about the number of students that witnessed this, that saw this,” said Denice Evans, a documentarian. “What about the ones that didn’t text or tweet, but that were there watching. … If you’re drinking alcohol – a lot of teens are drinking alcohol – they have just entered the phase where decision-making is completely gone out the window. There’s no deciding right or wrong in a moment.”

Evans said there was no impulse control when an adolescent brain was mixed with alcohol, social media and power.

Days before the guilty verdict was delivered, Richmond shared with ABC News, exclusively, his mindset that night.

“I realize that I did, I was doing wrong by drinking and partying, you know, after dark,” he said. “But I really did not, I didn’t rape anybody. I didn’t witness a rape going on. And if I would have thought that somebody was being raped or anything like that, I would have stopped it.

“I really just think that everybody was just, had a few drinks in them and they wasn’t really thinking,” he said. “I think everybody was just out of their minds, see.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar182013

Grand Jury Could Mean Additional Charges in Ohio Rape Case

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine announced on Sunday that the state will be convening a grand jury to investigate whether there could be additional indictments or charges in the Steubenville rape case.

"A grand jury is an investigative tool that is uniquely suited to ensure fairness and to complete this investigation," DeWine said at a news conference after Sunday's verdict.  "And this community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth."

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were both found delinquent -- the juvenile court equivalent of guilty -- on Sunday of the sexual assault of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

Both were sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail and could be held until they are 21 years old.  Mays was sentenced to an additional year for a charge related to distributing nude images of a minor.

Attorneys for both of the defendants said they plan to appeal.

"A prosecutor's most important duty is to seek justice.  I believe with these verdicts that justice has been done," DeWine said.  "However, this is not a happy time for anyone.  Every rape is a tragedy.  This is a tragedy."

DeWine said investigators identified 43 people who attended at least one of the two parties where the assaults took place.  Authorities interviewed 27 of those people, but the 16 others refused to cooperate for various reasons.

Additionally, the owners of one of the homes where one of the parties took place was interviewed as well as dozens of school officials.

The contents of 13 cellphones were analyzed, which amounted to 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, 940 videos, 3,188 phone calls and 16,422 contacts.

DeWine asked the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court to convene a grand jury to meet on or around April 15.  Evidence will be presented and DeWine said he expected that numerous witnesses will be called to testify.

The grand jury does not necessarily mean that there will be additional charges or indictments, but it is possible.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar172013

Steubenville Football Players Guilty in Ohio Rape Trial

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- Two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl have been found delinquent by a judge -- the juvenile court equivalent of guilty.

The teens could serve prison time until they turn 21.

The verdict comes after a four-day trial that included tearful testimony from the accuser who said she was "embarrassed and scared" after hearing about the night she was allegedly sexually assaulted while intoxicated.

"I honestly did not know what to think because I didn't remember anything," she testified. The teen pieced together the night's events from Twitter, Instagram photos, a YouTube video, text messages and witnesses.

Prosecutors accused Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, of using their fingers to vaginally penetrate the girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, as other teenagers watched. Mays was also accused of later sending text messages that included photographs of the girl with her clothing removed and charged with distributing nude images of a minor.

Brian Duncan, a lawyer representing Mays, told ABC News' "20/20" that what occurred that night was consensual.

"Trent Mays did not rape the young lady in question," Duncan said.

Richmond, in an exclusive interview recently with "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas, said, "I didn't rape anybody. I didn't witness a rape going on.

"And if I would have thought that somebody was being raped or anything like that," he added, "I would have stopped it."

The case drew further attention when some outside the small Rust Belt town accused local officials of willfully protecting the football players, seen as hometown heroes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar162013

Steubenville Rape Accuser Told Friend She Couldn't Remember What Happened

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- A former friend of the alleged victim in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape trial took the stand Saturday morning, saying the 16-year-old girl originally told her she could not remember what happened the night of the alleged attack by two high school football players, but said she swore "we didn't have sex."

The witness, who ABC News has chosen not to identify because she is a minor, gave an account of what she remembered from the night of the alleged incident. She said she no longer speaks to the accuser.

The girl testified that when she went to the first party with the alleged victim and another friend, the three of them drank slushies with vodka in them. She also said she saw the accuser drink alcohol straight from a bottle twice at the party.

The girl said she "noticed she was very drunk" at the first party the two attended together with another friend.

"She was rolling around on the ground," she said.

She testified that she had seen the alleged victim drink like this before and that it was "not really" out of character for her.

The witness said she has known the alleged victim since preschool and would have considered her a best friend. She said that some people believe the accuser has a reputation of being a liar.

The girl testified she went down to the basement of the house in which the party was held because the main floor was too crowded, but said she went up every five minutes to check on the alleged victim. She said at one point she saw her close to one of the defendants, 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond.

"She was just like leaning on him, standing next to him, and talking to him," she said.

Prosecutors accuse Richmond and Trent Mays, 17, of using their fingers to vaginally penetrate the girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of Aug. 11, as other teenagers watched. Mays is also accused of later sending text messages that included photographs of the girl with her clothing removed and is charged with distributing nude images of a minor.

Brian Duncan, a lawyer representing Mays, said simply: "Trent Mays did not rape the young lady in question."

Richmond, in an exclusive interview recently with 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas, said, "I didn't rape anybody. I didn't witness a rape going on."

"And if I would have thought that somebody was being raped or anything like that, I would have stopped it," he said.

In her testimony Saturday, the witness said that by the end of the evening, the alleged victim was mean to her.

"She was like snapping at what I would say," the girl said. "If I would tell her to stop drinking, she would get mad at me."

The former friend said she tried to get the accuser to stay at the party, even holding on to her in protest, but "she kind of just swung her arm back and hit me."

"When I told her not to leave, she wouldn't listen to me," she said. "I was trying to get her to stay."

The witness said Richmond was standing by the alleged victim while this was happening, but did not say or do anything.

The next morning, the girl testified, she went to pick up the alleged victim from the house where she slept, and also gave Richmond and Mays a ride.

She said neither the accuser nor the defendants seemed upset in the car.

Once the football players left the car, she testified that she yelled at the girl because she was upset with "her actions from the night before."

Both the prosecution and the defense jousted in court during the girl's testimony this morning in attempts to paint a clearer picture of the alleged victim's character.

Walter Madison, the lawyer representing Richmond, repeatedly asked the witness on the stand whether listening to her police statement again would refresh her memory of that evening. He made a motion to Judge Thomas Lipps to play a portion of her interview in court, which was denied.

But when she was cross examined by Mays' attorney and could not answer a question that referred to her police interview, the judge said he would permit the girl to listen to the audio recording when the court recessed for a one-hour break.

Saturday's testimony picked up following a late court session that went past 10:30 p.m. Friday evening. The court recessed after the examination of J.P. Rigaud, who was the lead detective on the case with the Steubenville Police Department, was complete.

Rigaud testified Friday that in collecting cell phones for evidence, he uncovered three pictures of the alleged victim. One of photos shows the alleged victim being held by Richmond and Mays by her arms and legs and appearing unconscious. It was taken by 18-year-old Cody Saltsman, posted to Instagram and widely disseminated. Saltsman was not implicated in the alleged sexual assault and has not been charged with any crime.

Richmond told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas that the alleged victim was joking around in Saltsman's picture.

But the other two photos, which were not posted publicly, came from Mays' phone.

In one of the pictures, the alleged victim is seen lying face down, and another hand is seen in the photo.

When asked about the hand in the photo, Rigaud testified "it was darker."

Rigaud also gave an account of his initial interview with the alleged victim in which she describes herself on the night of the incident saying she was "not sober, but was OK."

When Rigaud was cross examined by Madison, he asked him why he did not collect a DNA sample from 18-year-old Evan Westlake, who was present in all three locations that evening.

Westlake had not been interviewed by authorities until October, prior to the probable cause hearing. While Rigaud said he had spoken with the teen's attorney, ultimately, he was unable to get a sample from him.

Under pressure from Madison, Rigaud said that while he could have gotten a search warrant, he did not pursue Westlake further.

If convicted, Richmond and Mays could serve prison time until they turn 21.

The case drew further attention when some outside the small rustbelt town accused local officials of willfully protecting the football players, who they say are seen as hometown heroes.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

 

Friday
Mar152013

Steubenville Accuser: 'They Were Taking Advantage of Me'

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- A 16-year-old West Virginia girl allegedly raped by two high school football players emailed one of her accused attackers the day after a long night of partying to ask why he "would let that happen" and why "would you take my clothes off in front of everyone?"

That email was one of more than 100 electronic messages police recovered from the mobile phones of 16 different teenagers who attended a party with the alleged victim and the two Steubenville, Ohio, students accused of sexually assaulting her.

Prosecutors accuse Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, of using their fingers to vaginally penetrate the girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of Aug. 11, as other teenagers watched.  Mays is also accused of later sending text messages that included photographs of the girl with her clothing removed and charged with distributing nude images of a minor.

Three of those teenage eyewitnesses are expected to appear in court Friday, the third day of testimony in a case that has drawn international attention.

Two of the boys slated to testify on Friday are believed to have photographed the incident, but no charges have been brought against them.  Their testimony could be critical because the alleged victim says she remembers nothing of the incident.

Friday's testimony follows a dramatic day in court on Thursday, in which a forensic computer expert for the state introduced many of the often graphic messages sent from the alleged victim and the defendants in the hours after the party.

Most of the messages were between Mays and friends, in which the football player gives differing accounts of what took place at the party and how much sexual contact he had with the alleged victim.

In one instance, he claims to have had sex with the alleged victim, in other incidences he says the girl masturbated him and in others he says he digitally penetrated the girl.

In a series of texts between the alleged victim and friends, she pleads for information about what took place.

"Swear to God I don't remember doing anything with them," she texted a friend.  "Wait I think I was drugged.  I have no memory from after I left" the party, she texted one boy.

"I wasn't being a slut.  They were taking advantage of me," she wrote.

Defense attorneys say a toxicology report performed a day later showed no signs of drugs.

After learning about some of the alleged incidents at the party, the girl emails Mays.

"Why the f--- would you let that happen.  Seriously, you have no f---ing respect.  People are telling me so much s--t, why the f--- would you take my clothes off in front of everyone.  You shouldn't have let that happen," she wrote.

If convicted, Mays and Richmond could serve prison time until they turn 21.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar132013

ABC News Exclusive: Steubenville Rape Suspect Opens Up

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Ma'lik Richmond, a high school sophomore football player in Steubenville, Ohio, is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl from across the Ohio River in West Virginia while at a party with several other teenage boys.

The case has created a firestorm in the small football-obsessed city stoked by allegations that officials protected Steubenville football players at the expense of the alleged victim.  Residents there follow the storied Big Red high school football team religiously.  It is a program that Richmond, 16, had dreamed of joining and, on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, he relished the role he played in their first scrimmage win.

"I had two touchdowns and the fans were screaming and cheering," Richmond told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas in an exclusive interview with 20/20 given a little more than a week before his trial, which begins on Wednesday.  "I was just thinking, 'I just can't wait for the season to start.'"

It's no surprise that he was in a celebratory mood.  But even Richmond admits that some of what happened at the parties he and several of his teammates attended that night crossed the line.

"I knew one person had a fake I.D.," Richmond said.  "People had Bud Light Platinum, and different variety of beers and vodka.  Everybody was drinking."

But, Richmond insists, that was the only crime committed that night.

Prosecutors will argue that the young girl who was allegedly raped was intoxicated and beyond the point of consent when Richmond and teammate Trent Mays, 17, allegedly used their hands to penetrate her vaginally.  In Ohio, as in many states, that constitutes the crime of rape.

"The state doesn't have to prove that she was flat-lined, but it's clear during both of these digital penetrations she was not in the state to consent," Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said at a probable cause hearing in October.

The alleged victim's civil attorney also insists it would have been impossible for his client to consent that night.

"My client was unconscious that night.  She doesn't have any memory of what happened," Bob Fitzsimmons told 20/20.

ABC News does not name the victims of alleged sexual assaults.

Richmond says he was stunned to get a text from a friend three days after the party saying that one of the girls present that night had accused him of rape.

"I just texted him, like, 'What are you talking about?  Stop playing with me,'" he said.

Watch the full story on ABC's 20/20 Friday, March 22, at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar102013

Football Players Charged in Steubenville Rape Case to Face Trial this Week

GETTY(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- The two teenage football players charged with raping a passed out 16-year-old girl in the small town of Steubenville, Ohio in August are scheduled to go on trial this week.

The two football players, 16 and 17-years old, have both plead not guilty to the charges.

The case has gained national attention because three other high school students, two of them also football players for Steubenville High School's beloved "Big Red" football team, took photographs and video of the attack, which were released by the Internet group Anonymous.

There is widespread outrage that the three students who filmed the incident are not facing any charges themselves. Police say there is nothing they can do legally.

A few days after the video's release, allegedly made by a student that appeared to show him joking about the attack only hours after it had happened, an estimated 1,300 protestors showed up at Jefferson County Courthouse to rally in support of the victim and call for additional charges against the teenagers who were witness to the alleged attack.

"Charge them all," protesters chanted.

Town officials are have taken defensive action, having been subject to intense scrutiny and accused of covering up the crime. In January they launched Steubenville Facts, a website designed purely to combat perceived rumors about the case.

With the trial scheduled to start this week and after a judge refused to change the trial location, officials are again prepping for the glare of the media spotlight to descend on the town.

In a press conference last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the lead persecutor on the case, told reporters that additional charges may be brought against the other teenagers after this trial concludes. He estimated the case would last between three to four days.

"The worst thing about the crime in Steubenville, and it was a crime, was not that it was so ugly and horrible and disgusting, but that it was ordinary," Jacqueline Hillyer of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization of Women said at a protest. "It happens all the time across the state, across the country in high schools and people don't intervene."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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