Jurors Will Do What Is Right

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and lawyers on his staff have emphasized a grand jury looking into the rape of a teenager by two Steubenville High School students will hear evidence on all aspects of the case. While there is no way of knowing whether the grand jury will return indictments, it is clear crimes other than the sexual assault itself occurred.

Much of the attention focused on what has become known as “the Steubenville rape case” was initiated from outside this area. Now, it will be up to the nine members of the grand jury and possibly some alternates to pursue justice further than sometimes occurs in such cases.

Accusations have been made that some adults, perhaps including school employees, knew of the assault but did not report it. If grand jurors, after hearing evidence, believe that is true, they should return indictments.

But by definition, other crimes certainly occurred. We refer to the fact that the sexual assault occurred during what has been described as “an alcohol-fueled party” attended by the victim, her assailants and others – most, if not all, minors. Learning how the juveniles obtained alcoholic beverages should be a priority for grand jurors. Unless they were stolen, some adult(s) furnished them – and that is both wrong and illegal.

William Schenck, a prosecutor from DeWine’s office, outlined the attorney general’s agenda in speaking to potential members of the grand jury before the panel was selected. “We need to get to the truth,” Schenck stressed.

Schenck made one other very pertinent comment: “Our goal is simple -let the people of this county do what is right.”

All the women and men on the grand jury are residents of Jefferson County. Again, whether they will return indictments is not certain – but only because it is not known what evidence will be presented to them. Both local law enforcement agencies and state officials have conducted exhaustive investigations and collected an enormous amount of testimony and other evidence. Whether it is adequate to convince grand jurors is another matter.

But before accusations about alleged coverups resume on the Internet, one thing needs to be made absolutely clear: Our knowledge of grand juries and criminal trials during a period of decades is that the citizens who serve justice through them take their work seriously. To the best of this grand jury’s abilities, Jefferson Countians will do what is right in this case.