STEUBENVILLE - The third rally since the end of December protesting what organizers say is the lack of prosecution of more individuals in the alleged rape of a teenage girl is set for noon today in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The rally, organized by the Internet hacktivist group Anonymous, will be similar to the previous rallies protesting how local authorities have handled the investigation of the incident, which allegedly occurred Aug. 11 to 12.
Two Steubenville High School student-athletes have been charged: Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville. 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. The trial of the students is set for March 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.
Earlier this week, Lipps denied a motion for a change of venue as well as ruling the trial will be held in open court and continued the trial until March 13. The original trial date had been set for Feb. 13.
The previous protests attracted national and international attention, after media outlets took an interest in the case. However, national media attention has waned since the last rally.
Despite inclement weather, the rally at the courthouse Dec. 29 drew between 300 and 400 people. A second rally on Jan. 5 drew an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people. The rally planned for today - dubbed OpRollRedRoll by organizers - already had more than 1,600 people committed to attend, according to a Facebook.com invite page.
The case went national after a video of a former Steubenville High School student-athlete went viral. The 12-minute video, presumably shot during the night of the alleged incident, shows a former Steubenville High School student-athlete and others crudely joking about what some contend is the alleged rape. However, law enforcement officials since have said the video was made at another time and date and has no bearing on the case. Officials also have said no charges were expected to be filed against the individual in the video.
A Stand Up For Steubenville rally was held in support of the community Jan. 12 at Jim Wood Park.
Miller is a reporter with the Herald-Star in Steubenville.