UK & World News
Ohio Rape Case: Charges Possible Over Silence
Teenagers who failed to come forward after two high school footballers raped a 16-year-old girl could be charged, Ohio's top prosecutor has said.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, broke down in court on Sunday when they were found guilty of raping the girl at an alcohol-fuelled party in the small town of Steubenville in August.
Immediately after the verdict, attorney general Mike DeWine said a grand jury would investigate whether other people, including students, the school's principal, coaches and parents, broke the law by not speaking up after the attack.
The case was made notorious when a video of boys laughing about the assault on the drunk girl went viral.
"Many of the things that we learned during this trial that our children were saying and doing were profane, were ugly," said Judge Thomas Lipps.
In one video, high school boys laughed about watching the rape, saying the girl "deserved to be peed on".
Other videos and photos showed Mays and Richmond lifting the unconscious and nearly naked victim by her hands and feet.
"They treated her like a toy," prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said.
Mays and Richmond were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison. Mays was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the girl naked.
They can be held until they turn 21.
"My life is over," Richmond struggled to say through his sobs.
The crime shocked many in Steubenville because of the seeming callousness with which other students took out their mobile phones to record the attack and gossiped about it online.
In fact, the case came to light via a barrage of text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.
It also led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the celebrated Steubenville High Big Red team.
Noting that 16 people refused to talk, many of them underage, Mr DeWine said possible offences to be investigated include failure to report a crime.
"This community desperately needs to have this behind them, but this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned," he said.
Among those who have been interviewed are the owners of one of the houses where parties were held that night, the high school principal and the football team's 27 coaches, many of them volunteers.
Text messages introduced at the trial suggested the head coach was aware of the rape allegation early on.
Mr DeWine said coaches are among officials required by state law to report child abuse.
The coach and the school district have repeatedly declined to comment.
Prosecutors argued that the victim was so intoxicated she could not consent to sex that night, while the defence contended the girl realised what she was doing and was known to lie.
The girl testified she could not recall what happened but woke up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party.
"It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."
She said she believed she had been assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself naked, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack.
Three other boys, two of them on the football team, saw something happening that night and did not try to stop it but instead recorded it with their mobile phones.
Granted immunity to testify, they confirmed the girl was assaulted and said she was so drunk she did not seem to know what was happening.
In court Mays and Richmond apologised to the victim, her family and the community.
The 16-year-old victim was not in the room, but her mother addressed the court, telling the boys: "You displayed not only a lack of ... compassion, but a lack of any moral code.
"You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. I have pity for you both."
what do you think?
25 to life yeh!
Football players have always been a law on to themselves.girls who go to partys run the risk of mistreatment by players.
Send them to Egypt--just seen what they do to rickshaw thieves
Well of the two convicted only got 12 mths the rest will probably get a slap on the wrist - make the sentences mean something then this sort of thing won't happen
Usuley. Thay pay the girl off so as no one gets charged