Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he hopes local residents continue to have confidence in his office's ability to lead the prosecution of two Steubenville High School student-athletes charged with rape.
DeWine said the case will be prosecuted and tried using an impartial judge, and "the job of a prosecutor is to find the truth - not just to prosecute."
The attorney general's office is handling the prosecution of two 16-year-old teens from Jefferson County charged in connection with an alleged rape on Aug. 11-12. Their trial is set to begin Feb. 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.
DeWine said it isn't unusual for the state to become involved in a case when there is a potential for a conflict of interest. Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin recused herself from the case, as did Jefferson County Juvenile and Probate Judge Sam Kerr.
DeWine also said his office is working on the case with the Steubenville Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He said state officials have no bias and are actively working on the case.
DeWine said those with information on the case should contact BCI at 855-224-6446.
A group claiming to be Internet hackers known as "Anonymous" has asserted more than the two individuals charged were involved in the alleged rape and has posted photos, tweets and other information from accounts of others they claim were at the scene of or possibly participated in the alleged crime. The group also has made claims of a possible cover-up by local officials.
Those allegations prompted Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla to announce Friday that his department and other agencies are investigating an unofficial "Anonymous" member who has claimed credit for a protest rally last week and a second rally scheduled for noon today on Market Street, Steubenville.
"We have a good idea who this Anonymous person is. I know where he lives. I know his mother's name, his father's name and his brother's name. This is not the real Anonymous. Enough is enough. You had your fun. People will believe what they want to believe. But I credit the Steubenville Police Department for the job they did. They had the investigation into this incident wrapped up in four or five days after the rape was reported to them in August ... ," Abdalla said. "Names have been posted on the Internet of innocent people. They committed no criminal acts. One individual wasn't even in Jefferson County, much less Steubenville, when the alleged rape occurred," added Abdalla.
Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison announced Friday that the city will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. today to discuss the focus on the city regarding the rape investigation.
The sheriff expressed concern about today's noon rally in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.
"The majority of the people who were at last week's rally and who will be there again this week are concerned about the victim," he said. "But there will be some people there who want to yell and curse the Steubenville police. And that is wrong."
Dave Gossett contributed to this report.