Teens charged with threats released under house arrest

STEUBENVILLE – Two teenagers who made threats to the victim in the Steubenville High School rape case were released under house arrest after the girls made appearances Wednesday before Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr.

The two 16-year-olds are charged with felony intimidation of a witness and aggravated menacing and telecommunication harassment, both misdemeanors. The girls through their attorneys officially denied the charges on Wednesday.

Kerr ordered the girls not use social media or have any contact with the victim in the rape case.

Kerr said the girls will be allowed to resume their schooling and participate in any extracurricular activities.

The girls were arrested by City Police on March 18, the day after visiting Juvenile Judge Tom Lipps found Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville and Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale delinquent of charges or rape. Mays also was found guilty of a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

County Assistant Prosecutor Samuel Pate said the girls will be placed back in the juvenile detention center if they violate the terms of their house arrest.

Kerr will now schedule a pretrial hearing.

According to Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, one of the girls tweeted, “going to celebrate by beating the s– out of *****.”

The names of the girls are not being released by juvenile court.

Attorney Francesca Carinci, representing one of the girls, asked Kerr for permission to get the cell phone used by her client, which was seized and submitted to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Carinci said she wants her own expert to determine if the transmission of the Twitter message was done in Ohio.

“We don’t know that now,” Carinci said.

Attorney Sara Gasser is representing the other girl.

Pate didn’t object to Carinci’s request and Kerr ordered the cell phone be made available to Carinci.

Pate said he is confident the Twitter transmission came into Ohio and Ohio has jurisdiction.

Pate said the prosecutor’s office has asked Twitter for account information and transcripts of what was posted in connection with the case.

Pate said the girls face a minimum of six months in a state juvenile facility if found delinquent of the charges, but Pate said there are a variety of sentencing options. He said rehabilitation is paramount in the juvenile justice system.

Carinci said her client immediately apologized after the Tweet was posted.

“I respect the sheriff’s department and the prosecutor’s office for doing their job. But I hope we can keep this in the proper context,” Carinci said after a prior court appearance with her client.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)