Kerr, Hanlin Step Down in Rape, Kidnap Case

Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Samuel Kerr plans to step down from presiding over a case involving two Steubenville High School students accused of kidnapping and raping a female juvenile, and Kerr has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a visiting judge for future proceedings.

Fred Abdalla Jr., chief probation office for the juvenile court, said Kerr sent a letter to the state Supreme Court on Monday asking for a replacement to be appointed for the case.

“We hope to hear back from the state Supreme Court this week,” added Abdalla.

Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin recused herself from the case Monday and announced two attorneys from the Ohio Attorney General’s Crimes Against Children unit have been appointed as special assistant prosecutors for the county.

“I will not prosecute this case, but will share what I have learned during the initial investigation with Associate Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Associate Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby,” said Hanlin.

“As special assistant prosecutors (they) will be assigned full authority to investigate and evaluate all facts, circumstances and chains of events leading to, related to, connected to and or subsequent to an alleged rape and/or kidnapping,” Hanlin said in her petition to be recused that was filed with Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph Bruzzese Monday.

Hanlin said the county will not be financially responsible for the special assistant prosecutors.

Abdalla said the Jefferson County prosecutor’s office filed a motion for a discretionary bind over as a possible first step that could see the two high school athletes accused of kidnapping and rape tried as adults.

Assistant Prosecutor Sam Pate said Monday afternoon the motion filed earlier in the day will require a preliminary hearing to be held by the visiting judge.

“If probable cause is established at the preliminary hearing, then the court will order an amenability hearing into the background of the two juveniles. The court would then determine if the defendants should be tried as adults or as juveniles,” said Pate.

No hearing date has been set for that issue.