Rape trial begins

STEUBENVILLE – A 16-year-old girl was “substantially impaired” after an alcohol-fueled party, was unable to consent to sex and suffered humiliation and degradation when she was raped by two high school football players, a prosecutor said Wednesday in her opening statement at the boys’ trial.

But a lawyer for defendant Trent Mays said his 17-year-old client “did not rape the young lady in question.”

Six witnesses, four young people who were at parties in August and two cops, were called Wednesday during the opening day of the trial before visiting Juvenile Judge Tom Lipps.

Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville have been charged with rape in connection with happenings at and around a party Aug. 11 and 12. Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

If convicted, Mays and Richmond, who deny any wrongdoing, could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.

Special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office told Lipps in opening statements that Mays and Richmond took advantage of the victim who was drunk. She said the defendants digitally penetrated the victim and Mays sent a naked picture of the victim from his cell phone.

Hemmeter said the victim was impaired and couldn’t resist.

Attorney Walter Madison, representing Richmond, didn’t make an opening statement but did focus his questioning of witnesses on the whether the victim was in a sober enough condition to make decisions.

Attorney Brian Duncan, representing Mays, said the prosecution won’t be able to prove its case.

Following opening statements, prosecutors presented two witnesses, 17-year-old girls who said they saw the girl the night of the party. Questions by prosecutors and defense lawyers focused on how much the girl had been drinking that night.

One of the 17-year-old girls, a Steubenville High School student, said the 16-year-old girl was having trouble walking but never appeared to pass out. The other 17-year-old girl said she had never seen her friend so intoxicated.

The defendants were charged 10 days after the party, after a flurry of social media postings about the alleged attack led the girl and her family to go to police.

Hacker activists have publicized tweets and other social media postings made the night of the alleged rape, including a 12-minute video in which one student joked about it while others in the background chimed in.

Bob Fitzsimmons, a lawyer for the girl’s family, said, “The family wants this matter over so they can move on with their lives and their daughter’s healing.”

Dozens of witnesses for both sides were expected to testify at the trial. Their testimony is considered crucial because the girl was severely intoxicated that night and appeared to be passed out at times, according to several witnesses.

The trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. today and is expected to last into the evening. The trial may not conclude until Saturday

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Law is a reporter with the Herald-Star in Steubenville.