Accuser testifies; verdict today, judge says
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – The accuser in the rape trial of two Ohio high school football players testified Saturday as the trial neared an end that she recalled drinking at a party last summer but could not remember what had happened when she awoke the next day naked in a strange house.
Testimony in the four-day nonjury trial against Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond ended after the judge heard from the 16-year-old West Virginia girl and others in the juvenile court case. Judge Thomas Lipps said he would announce a decision today.
If found delinquent – the juvenile court equivalent of guilty – the two defendants could be held in juvenile jail until they turn 21, when they would be released.
Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, are charged with digitally penetrating the girl, first in a car and then in the basement of a house, while out partying Aug. 12. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. They maintain their innocence.
The case has riveted the city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team.
The allegations were huge locally for weeks, then became the focus of Internet attention in the fall after hacker activists and bloggers began publishing the names of other students. Attention peaked again after a 12-minute YouTube video resurfaced in January in which a student jokes about the girl, calling her “dead” and making numerous off-color remarks.
On the stand Saturday, the girl said she remembers drinking at the party, leaving the party holding hands with Mays, then throwing up later. The next thing she remembers is waking up with no clothes on in a strange house, she said. She said she felt scared and embarrassed. Her phone, earrings, shoes and underwear were missing, she testified.
“It was really scary,” she said. “I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything.”
She recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.
“They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me,” she testified. “I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video.”
She said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself that night, and the YouTube video.
The girl testified in a quiet, sometimes hesitant voice, and broke down only once: when prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter showed her a photo of herself naked that the girl had never seen.
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