Rape trial under way

STEUBENVILLE – Local, national and international media outlets gathered outside the Jefferson County Justice Center this morning in preparation for the mid-morning start of the trial of two Steubenville High School student-athletes charged with rape.

Parties in the case of Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville delivered opening statements at 10:30 a.m. in Jefferson County Juvenile Court before visiting Judge Thomas Lipps. In addition to rape, Mays is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Numerous news trucks were parked in front of the building, while dozens of cameramen and reporters prepared their equipment for the day and shot footage of the pre-trial scene outside.

Still absent around 9 a.m., however, were crowds that gathered in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse earlier this year and late last year to show their support for the 16-year-old alleged victim and protest perceived mishandling of the case by local law enforcement and prosecutors.

In a press conference held Monday afternoon, City Manager Cathy Davison said she and other city officials did not expect an influx of people for the trial, outside of media.

At least two Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies stood outside of the justice center this morning, prepared to deal with any crowd that may gather, while even more deputies stood guard in the building’s lobby. The trial is expected to last at least through Friday, and may run into the weekend. The victim, who is from Weirton, is expected to be among those who testify.