Rape Trial Under Way

STEUBENVILLE – The trial of two Steubenville High School student-athletes accused in the rape of a 16-year-old Weirton girl opened this morning at the Jefferson County Justice Center.

The defendants entered the courtroom at 10:45 a.m., and visiting Judge Thomas Lipps convened the session at 10:58 a.m.

Attorneys for both defendants withdrew motions that asked for Lipps to dismiss the charges.

Lipps, the attorneys and prosecutors went into the judge’s chambers at 11 a.m. to discuss issues involving the admissibility of evidence. That session was expected to last between one hour and 90 minutes.

Each teen is charged with assaulting the Weirton girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. One of the teens also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Witnesses said the girl was so drunk she threw up at least twice and had trouble walking and speaking. She was also photographed being carried by the two young men.

In an excerpt of a videotaped interview with ABC’s “20/20,” one of the defendants said the photo was a joke, and the girl was awake and was a willing participant.