STEUBENVILLE Grand jury finishes 1st day in rape case

Associated Press


A grand jury Tuesday began investigating whether other laws were broken in the case of a 16-year-old girl a judge determined was raped by two high school football players after an alcohol-fueled party last summer.

One of the questions before the 14-person panel meeting in Steubenville, in eastern Ohio, is likely to be whether adults such as coaches or school administrators knew about the rape allegation but failed to report it.

School superintendent Mike McVey has acknowledged that he, other administrators and head football coach Reno Saccoccia were interviewed by investigators in the days leading up to the players’ March trial.

Text messages introduced at trial indicated that Saccoccia may have known about the allegation but didn’t report it. If true, that would violate state law requiring coaches and others to report suspected abuse. Saccoccia has declined to comment, and the school board has declined to make him available.

Investigators searched Steubenville High School and the local school board offices Thursday.

Investigators also searched Vestige Digital Investigations, a digital forensics storage company in Medina, in Northeast Ohio. The company’s connection to the case was unclear, and it denies it’s the subject of a criminal investigation.

The owners of a home where a photo was taken of the Weirton, W.Va., girl being carried by the two boys later convicted of raping her also have been interviewed by investigators.

DeWine says nothing is off the table for the grand jury, which he announced within hours of the guilty verdict March 17.

The grand jury concluded its first day of secret work Tuesday afternoon and was to resume today. DeWine has said it will convene three to four days a week and hear from dozens of witnesses. Any charges recommended by the panel are likely weeks away.

A judge convicted the teens in March of raping the girl with their fingers after the party, once in a moving car, the second time in the basement of a house. The boys, who had maintain their innocence, were sentenced to one- and two-year terms in the state juvenile detention system.

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