Updated: Prosecutor: Rape Victim was “Substantially Impaired”

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) – A 16-year-old girl was “substantially impaired” after an alcohol-fueled party, was unable to consent to sex and suffered humiliation and degradation when she was raped by two high school football players, a prosecutor said Wednesday during opening statements at the boys’ trial.

But a defense lawyer said his 17-year-old client “did not rape the young lady in question.”

Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter and defense attorney Brian Duncan spoke at the opening of the juvenile court trial that has drawn international attention to a small town in a football-loving region of eastern Ohio.

Hemmeter told Judge Thomas Lipps, who is hearing the case without a jury, that she would show that the girl was “somebody who was too impaired to say no, somebody who was too impaired to say stop.”

Defense attorney Walter Richmond gave no opening statement.

The case has divided the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged. It has also led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.

Defense attorneys had sought to have the case dismissed after West Virginia Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson initially rejected requests that the girl and two other juveniles from that state be called to testify at the trial in eastern Ohio. The judge reversed that ruling late Tuesday after hearing arguments on the matter, and the defense attorneys withdrew the request for dismissal.

The players’ attorneys say the testimony from all three juveniles could bolster the defense.