Report: Witnesses in rape trial threatened

STEUBENVILLE – One witness became emotional and had to wipe away tears during testimony Wednesday afternoon in the Steubenville rape.

The first witness was a Steubenville Catholic Central High School student who testified to preparing for a party that involved alcohol.

The witness said the alleged victim, “seemed like she got drunk extremely fast.”

A second witness testified in Jefferson County Juvenile Court through tears about the alleged victim’s condition at a second party.

Meanwhile, sources in the case indicated threats have been made against witnesses.

A 16-year-old girl was “substantially impaired” after an alcohol-fueled party, was unable to consent to sex and suffered humiliation and degradation when she was raped by two high school football players, a prosecutor said Wednesday in her opening statement at the boys’ trial.

But a lawyer for defendant Trent Mays said his 17-year-old client “did not rape the young lady in question.”

Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter and Mays’ attorney, Brian Duncan, spoke at the opening of the juvenile court trial that has drawn international attention to a small town in a football-loving region of eastern Ohio.

Hemmeter told Judge Thomas Lipps, who is hearing the case without a jury, that she would show that the girl was “somebody who was too impaired to say no, somebody who was too impaired to say stop.”

The attorney for Mays’ co-defendant, for Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, gave no opening statement.

Richmond and Mays are charged with digitally assaulting the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party Aug. 11 and then in the basement of a house. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

If convicted, Mays and Richmond could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21. They have denied any wrongdoing.

They were charged 10 days after the party, after a flurry of social media postings about the alleged attack led the girl and her family to go to police.

(Herald-Star staff writer Michael D. McElwain contributed to this report.)