Five Months, Little Action
(AP) – The grand jury investigating the Steubenville rape case has hit the five-month mark without criminal charges.
A chief issue before the 14-member panel is whether coaches, school administrators or other adults knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by Ohio law.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday the panel would meet again on Friday, likely for one day – the first time it has met since mid-August. He said he couldn’t talk about its deliberations or offer a timeline.
“What we do in our office is we follow the facts and see where the facts take us and we do that with any investigation,” DeWine said.
“Certainly we want to move as quickly as we can.”
DeWine announced the grand jury March 17, the same day a judge convicted Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond of raping a 16-year-old Weirton girl. The grand jury first met in early May.
Allegations of a cover-up dogged the case, despite charges brought against the boys shortly after the attack. Three teens who saw the attacks were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony.
Grand juries operate by different rules and thresholds of guilt and face few deadlines other than statutes of limitations, said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh criminal law professor. Prosecutors, who run the panels, aren’t obliged to say how long grand juries will meet or make promises about conclusions, Harris said.
“The bottom-line answer is that this could take as long as it takes,” Harris said.
Former county prosecutor Mike Miller agreed, saying lengthy deliberations are more common in investigative grand juries looking at particular cases. By contrast, many counties have grand juries that meet daily, weekly or monthly to consider charges in more routine prosecutions.
“I’m sure that for something that’s pretty far ranging, they’ll get every bit of information they can before the grand jury,” said Miller, a private practice attorney in Columbus who was Franklin County prosecutor from 1980 to 1996.