Grand jury to determine if more charges looming

STEUBENVILLE – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said 16 individuals refused to cooperate with his office over the past several months as it investigated the Steubenville rape case.

Now, he’s calling on Jefferson County officials to convene a grand jury in April so his office can determine if any additional charges need to be filed in the case.

DeWine held a press conference Sunday in the Jefferson County Justice Center shortly after Judge Thomas Lipps handed down guilty verdicts against Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond. DeWine said the rape case investigation cannot be considered complete without assembling a grand jury, which is expected to meet April 15.

“This community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in the search for the truth,” DeWine said.

In investigating the rape, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents interviewed 27 partygoers, as well as Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey, Steubenville High School Principal Shawn Crosier and numerous Big Red football coaches. There were 16 individuals, however, mostly juveniles, who refused to cooperate.

He said prosecutors from his office will present evidence and call numerous witnesses during the assembly, which he anticipates to last several days. Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.

One of the potential charges that may come out of the grand jury session is failure to report a felony. DeWine clarified that in order to charge someone with failing to report such a crime, it must first be proved that a crime was committed, which was done Sunday when Lipps found Mays and Richmond guilty.

He noted that under Ohio law, teachers and team coaches are obligated to report any crimes they have knowledge of to law enforcement. DeWine would not say if Big Red head football coach Reno Saccoccia is expected to testify or if he may face charges. Text messages introduced at the trial suggested the head coach was aware of the rape allegation early on.

DeWine commended the handling of the rape case by the Steubenville Police Department, as well as the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the county prosecutor’s office.

Also during the press conference, Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter criticized the involvement of the group claiming to be part of Anonymous, saying it had a chilling effect on witnesses and the victim.