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Hanlin Confirms Threats to Family

Jefferson prosecutor left town during football players’ rape trial

March 19, 2013
By MICHAEL D. McELWAIN - For The Intelligencer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin and her family left town during the juvenile rape trial in Steubenville because of threats made against both her and her family.

Sunday evening, Hanlin confirmed threats had been made, and she believed them to be credible.

Hanlin said there had been instances of threats before, but the number of threats of a specific nature grew.

"As the trial date grew closer, we received a number of them that seemed to be more credible than others," Hanlin said.

She would not divulge the nature of the threats and would not comment on potential suspects. She said the last threat came Tuesday, the day before the trial began.

"I will not and should not comment on the nature of the threats because they're being investigated," Hanlin noted.

The information was turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is handling the matter, she said.

Hanlin has been prosecuting cases since 2005 and noted, "I have never received, nor has my family received, more death threats than during this particular case."

Though she did not make a connection between the threats and any outside groups, Hanlin said the posts, rumors, innuendo and gossip on the Internet surrounding the case caused more harm than good and could have potentially harmed the investigation or prosecution.

Hanlin said she believed it "made finding justice more difficult than it ever would have been."

She did, however, say the online aspect of the situation raised awareness of sexual assault.

"Rather than calling it a Steubenville problem or a Big Red problem, it should be a teaching moment for all of us," Hanlin said.

Despite her view that the social media component was a distraction and possible hindrance, Hanlin said justice was served with Sunday's verdict and sentencing.

Visiting Juvenile Judge Thomas Lipps found Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville guilty Sunday of rape in connection with an incident involving an underage girl Aug. 11-12.

Mays also was found delinquent of a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

The non-jury trial at the Jefferson County Justice Center lasted four days, with testimony ending Saturday evening.

"This was a case that was difficult and heartbreaking for the victim and for everyone involved," Hanlin said.

City police began their investigation after the victim's parents went to the Steubenville police station on Aug. 14 to report a sexual assault involving their daughter.

As Hanlin coordinated the initial investigation effort with local law enforcement, state investigators were brought in early, records show.

BCI became involved Aug. 16, helping to process the crime scene where the rape took place.

On Aug. 27, Hanlin officially requested assistance from the Ohio Attorney General's Office in the prosecution of the two juveniles.

Hanlin had no further involvement with the case.

 
 

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