Texts key in case

STEUBENVILLE – A flurry of cell phone text messages sent among numerous teenagers in the Steubenville area dominated Thursday’s second day of testimony in a rape case in which nine witnesses testified.

Among them were texts from the two defendants describing mutual acts and claims that the high school football coach ”took care of it” and not to worry.

Others were from the 16-year-old girl who is said to be the victim. “Swear to God I don’t remember doing anything with them,” she wrote to a friend who authorities say saw the assaults. “I wasn’t being a slut. They were taking advantage of me,” she also wrote to the same boy.

Testimony is set to resume at 9 a.m. today at the Jefferson County Justice Center, with eyewitnesses to what happened being called to the stand.

Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale, and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville have been accused of raping a drunken Weirton, W.Va., girl on Aug. 11 and 12, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party involving high school football players and others, and then in the basement of a house.

Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material on accusations that he had a picture of the girl in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.

Joann Gibb, an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation computer forensic specialist, testified about analyzing 17 cell phones seized during the investigation.

Gibb said the text messages can be traced to the phone and who that phone belongs to, but there is no proof as to who actually typed the messages.

She said text messages from Mays’ phone stated that Mays digitally penetrated the victim, who witnesses have said was highly intoxicated. The defense is attempting to prove the victim wasn’t as intoxicated as witnesses have said.

A text from Mays’ phone said the sexual act on the victim was done at around 3 a.m. on Aug. 12 while the girl was reciprocating a sexual act.

The texts also show Mays’ phone sending messages to the girl and her father after word spread about the alleged incident.

A text message from Richmond’s phone stated he also performed a sex act on the victim, according to Gibb.

The texting also included references to Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville High School head football coach.

Mays texted to Anthony Craig that Saccoccia “took care of it. Nothing is going to happen.”

Mays texted to a female that Saccoccia had told him those involved have to stay in for a week and they will be suspended for three games the next time, testimony indicated. “But I felt he took care of it.”

Additional testimony Thursday came from Sean McGhee, a former Steubenville high school student who said he considered the girl his friend, and said she was extremely drunk the night of the party. He said he was upset after hearing about the alleged assault and texted Mays.

Dissatisfied with Mays’ account, he texted back: “I saw the pix, bro. Don’t lie.”

Walter Madison, an attorney for Richmond, challenged McGhee’s account, saying he may have exaggerated in his mind the girl’s intoxication because of his anger over the allegations.

The case is being heard by visiting Judge Thomas Lipps from Hamilton Count. Lipps is expected to issue a ruling at the end of the trial, which could stretch until Sunday.

Law writes for the Herald-Star in Steubenville. The Associated Press contributed to this story.