Chief McCafferty Speaks Out on Rape Case

STEUBENVILLE – Police Chief Bill McCafferty on Wednesday told City Council his department has “done our best” to investigate the alleged August rape of a 16-year-old girl by two Steubenville High School students.

He also said the investigation remains “active and ongoing.”

“I always want to protect the integrity of a case. But recent social media comments are sometimes wrong and distracting,” McCafferty said.

McCafferty addressed council after a 12-plus minute video appeared on Youtube Wednesday morning showing a former Steubenville High School student apparently discussing the rape.

McCafferty said after the rape was reported, his department’s juvenile officer focused solely on the case. This led to the two students’ arrest, he said. They are set for trial on Feb. 13 and are being charged as juveniles.

“The sheriff’s department has assisted us with the confiscating of cell phones. Those phones were promptly turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification. And all of the information we have gathered has been turned over to the two state prosecutors,” he said.

“And, as I have said since the beginning of this case, if anyone has information … please contact the state attorney general’s office or the Steubenville police. In order to take any case to trial you have to have evidence.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla also spoke out on the case Wednesday. He denied a cover-up of any kind.

“If there was a cover-up, why were two people arrested?” said the sheriff. “This investigation isn’t over. I saw the video. It’s disgusting.”

Abdalla also criticized those he believes don’t care about justice but are engaging in “character assassination.”

“I respected (protesters) coming to the city (Saturday), but now (some have) crossed a line,” said Abdalla, adding they were leveling personal attacks against law enforcement officials. “When they started this character assassination, I wondered if they really cared about this case. I wonder now if they ever really did. I think they just want the notoriety.

“It’s not about standing up for justice any more. … To paint a whole community as corrupt because two people made a terrible mistake is just wrong. They want us to arrest the whole (Steubenville High School) football team. Remember, these two boys are innocent until proven guilty. I think people forget that. To talk about corruption in the city and to put false information on a website – that’s not right, either.”

Abdalla also said the case was hampered by the victim not coming forward to report the alleged crime for three days.

In an related matter, one of two special prosecutors assigned to the rape trial has left the state attorney general’s office for a job in the private sector.

Jennifer Brumby will be replaced with another prosecutor to handle the case, according to Jill Del Greco, spokesperson for Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Del Greco said Brian Deckert had been assigned as special prosecutor along with Marianne Hemmeter. The Attorney General’s office assigned special prosecutors to the case after Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin recused herself and her office from involvement due to potential conflicts.