60 Witnesses May Be Called to Testify

STEUBENVILLE -About 60 witnesses may be called during the trial of two Steubenville High School student-athletes scheduled to start Wednesday in juvenile court in the Jefferson County Justice Center.

The teens, both 16, have been charged with rape in connection with an incident that allegedly happened Aug. 11-12. One teen also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

Judge Thomas Lipps, a retired Hamilton County juvenile court judge, will preside over the trial and make the sole determination of guilt or innocence.

The trial will go through at least Friday and Lipps has said court will be held on Saturday and Sunday if necessary.

The attorney general’s office was called to prosecute the case after Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin stepped aside. Marianne Hemmeter and Brian Deckert, assistant attorney generals are expected to call 28 witnesses.

Attorneys Brian Duncan and Adam Nemann will represent one teen and are expected to call 19 witnesses. Walter Madison is representing the second teen and he is expected to call about 12 witnesses.

Lipps permitted Madison to hire a private investigator to help in interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence.

The victim will testify.

Witnesses at a prior hearing said the girl was highly intoxicated and could barely walk.

City Police juvenile detective Jean-Philippe Rigaud, who has since left to work with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, testified the victim couldn’t say if she was raped because she couldn’t remember what happened.

Juvenile court is taking special precautions during the trial and security is expected to be tight around the justice center. A protest is planned at the Jefferson County Courthouse during the trial.

The witnesses also will include two 17-year-old boys and an 18 year old who were at the house where the alleged rape occurred.

One of the teen witnesses who was seen in a 12-minute YouTube video making comments about the alleged rape, also is expected to testify. His attorney, Dennis McNamara, in January said his client wasn’t at the house where the alleged rape occurred.

The Ohio National Organization for Women and UltraViolet, another women’s right organization, presented a petition to Ohio Attorney Mike DeWine demanding the teen be charged with failure to report a crime.

DeWine said earlier this month his office will announce after the rape trial of the two rape suspects whether charges will be brought against others. DeWine said his office is continuing its investigation of the incident.

Media outlets from around the state, nation and even international news media are expected to attend the trial.