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Teen rape case moves forward

October 13, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

STEUBENVILLE - A juvenile judge Friday at the Jefferson County Justice Center ruled there was probable cause for rape charges to continue against two Steubenville High School students and athletes.

Visiting Judge Tom Lipps did dismiss kidnapping charges against Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville. The judge also ruled a charge against Mays of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material will continue.

Mays and Richmond were charged in connection with a sexual assault which witnesses said occurred on the night of Aug. 11 into the morning of Aug. 12. The victim's parents came to City Police on Aug. 14 to make a report.

Article Photos

Mark Law
RAPE HEARING — City Police juvenile detective Jean-Philippe Rigaud testifies in juvenile court Friday during a probable cause hearing on rape charges against two Steubenville High School students and athletes while visiting Juvenile Judge Tom Lipps takes notes. The judge ordered the rape cases to continue but dismissed the kidnapping charges. The court will next hold a hearing scheduled for Nov. 1 to determine if the juveniles should have their cases bound over to adult court or remain in the juvenile system.

Lipps said there was eyewitness testimony that sexual conduct occurred. The judge said there was probable cause the victim was drunk and impaired and the juveniles charged knew it.

A hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 1 to determine whether Mays and Richmond will be bound over to adult court or will remain in the juvenile system.

Mays and Richmond will continue to be held in the Jefferson County Juvenile Detention Center.

Three fellow Steubenville High School students testified about the incident. Lipps advised the teens of their rights not to incriminate themselves through testimony. Two of the teens had attorneys present when they were testifying.

Joann Gibbs, a forensic analyst of digital media with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, said she looked at 15 cell phones and two iPads that were submitted by City Police following search warrants.

She said Apple iPhones with later generation operating systems make it impossible to recover files that are deleted. Gibbs testified she did recover two naked pictures of the victim that were part of text messages sent on Mays' cell phone.

Those involved in the incident were at three separate houses during the night of Aug. 11. There was testimony the victim was highly intoxicated and throwing up at various locations.

Mark Cole II, 17, said the victim was leaving one house and was so intoxicated she could barely walk.

"She wasn't capable of walking on her own and was stumbling as walking," Cole said.

Cole said he shot a video of sexual conduct in his car between Mays and the victim as they were driving to Cole's house. Cole said he later deleted the video from his phone.

He said, at his house, Mays attempted to get the victim to perform oral sex on Mays.

Cole said it "wasn't his place to determine if there was a sexual assault. He said he didn't believe it was necessary to call his mother, who wasn't at home, another adult or the police.

Cole did say the victim wasn't moving at his house when the sexual assault took place.

He said Richmond was lying beside her with his hands around her groin area but couldn't tell if Richmond was sexually touching the victim. He said he didn't intervene because he didn't at any time see the conduct by the defendants as "forceful."

Anthony Craig, 18, said he could see the victim getting more drunk throughout the night.

"Just the way she handled herself and was walking and talking to people," Craig said.

He said he went to Cole's house where Cole showed him a video of what happened in Cole's car.

Craig, who admitted to having a relationship with the victim, said he saw the victim naked in Cole's basement. He said he saw Richmond laying beside her but couldn't tell what Richmond was doing. He said Mays was smacking his penis off her side.

Craig said the victim was not responsive or participating.

Craig said he tried to tell Mays, his best friend, to stop it, and told him not to do anything he will regret.

Craig said Mays told him, "It is all right ... don't worry."

When asked how it feels to testify against his friend, Craig said. "It kills me."

Craig said he took a picture of the incident in case the victim didn't know what was happening. He said he later deleted the picture from his cell phone.

Craig testified Mays sent him a naked picture of the victim the next day.

City Police juvenile detective Jean-Philippe Rigaud said the victim couldn't say if she was raped because she couldn't remember what happened. The detective said there was no photo or video retrieved that showed Mays conducting a sexual act.

Evan Westlake, 17, said he was at Cole's house and was getting ready to leave when he saw the victim naked on her side. He said the victim wasn't moving.

Westlake said Richmond was beside her and performing a sexual act and Mays was smacking his penis off her side.

When asked why he didn't help, Westlake said, "I was stunned with what I saw. I wanted to get out of there. I didn't know what to do."

Richmond is being represented by attorney Walter Madison, who has offices in Akron and Youngstown. Mays is being represented by attorneys Brian K. Duncan and Adam Nemann, both of Columbus.

Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby, both with the Ohio Attorney General's Crimes Against Children unit, were assigned to the case after Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin stepped aside. Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr asked the Ohio Supreme Court to appoint a visiting judge. Lipps is a retired juvenile judge in Hamilton County.

Hemmeter said there was clear evidence of fingers being used to penetrate the victim.

Defense attorneys argued the issue of consent.

"Because she was silent doesn't mean she was objecting," Madison said.

But Hemmeter presented a different view.

"They knew she was drunk and they kept going. She was a toy to them that night. She was treated like a toy."

The five hours of testimony in the probable cause hearing was preceded by a motion by Madison to close the proceedings to the public and media.

Local media were given time to contact attorney to argue the issue.

Lipps ruled the public interest in the case outweighed the issue of closing the hearing and protecting the privacy of the juveniles charged. He said the court has to protect the dignity of the court and that doesn't happen by holding secretive hearings.

 
 

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