Rape Trial Day 2: Highlights

STEUBENVILLE – Cell phone text messages among numerous teenagers in the Steubenville rape case dominated Thursday’s second day of testimony in which nine witnesses testified.

Testimony is set to resume at 9 a.m. Friday at the Jefferson County Justice Center with eyewitnesses to the alleged rape being called to the stand.

Two teenaged boys have been charged with raping a Weirton girl on Aug. 11-12. One of the teens also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

Joann Gibb, an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation computer forensic specialist, testified about analyzing 17 cell phones seized during the investigation.

Gibb said the text messages can be traced to the phone and who that phone belongs to, but there is no proof as to who actually typed the messages.

She said text messages from one of the defendant’s phones stated that the defendant sexually assaulted the victim, who witnesses have said was highly intoxicated. The defense is attempting to prove the victim wasn’t as intoxicated as witnesses have said.

A text from the defendant’s phone said the sexual act on the victim was done at around 3 a.m. on Aug. 12 while the victim was reciprocating a sexual act.

The texts also show the defendant’s phone sending messages to the victim and to the victim’s father after word spread about the alleged incident.

A text message from the other defendant’s phone stated he also performed a sex act on the victim, according to Gibb.

The texting also included references to Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville High School head football coach.

A student not charged in the case texted to one of the defendants that Saccoccia “took care of it. Nothing is going to happen.”

A defendant texted to a female that Saccoccia had told him those involved have to stay in for a week and they will be suspended for three games the next time, testimony indicated. “But I felt he took care of it.”

The case is being heard by visiting Judge Thomas Lipps from Hamilton Count. Lipps is expected to issue a ruling at the end of the trial, which could stretch until Sunday.