Fallout from rape case felt elsewhere

LISBON – Fallout from the Internet-fueled outrage over the Steubenville rape case is being felt in Columbiana County, and it has nothing to do with threats from a group calling itself Anonymous Columbiana County, which popped up online last week promising to expose unspecified corruption in the county.

Sheriff Ray Stone said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation has pulled two agents from the county and reassigned them to work on the rape case.

The agents were assisting in the Melinda Todd murder investigation and the probe into financial irregularities at the Columbiana County Drug Task Force. Stone said the investigation in both those cases will be slowed or delayed until those agents return from Steubenville.

“They’re short on agents, like everyone else, I guess,” he said of BCI.

National media flooded Steubenville after a group referring to itself as Anonymous targeted the case of two Steubenville High School student-athletes charged with raping a 16-year-old Weirton girl.

Makik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville and Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale are facing rape charges in connection with the alleged incident. Mays also has been charged with the illegal use of a minor in nudity-related material. Their attorneys have denied the charges in court. Their trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.

Walter Madison, Richmond’s attorney, on Friday filed motions in Jefferson County juvenile court that seek a change of venue, ask that the upcoming trial be closed to the public and media and request a continuance of the trial.

Madison has said social media comments about the case have caused potential witnesses to stop talking to him. He also said the environment created by the social media content is forcing people not to become directly involved in the case.