Jury adjourns for three weeks

STEUBENVILLE – A special grand jury has adjourned for three weeks while investigators go back to analyzing evidence and interviewing witnesses to determine whether other laws were broken in the case of a 16-year-old girl who was raped by two high school football players last summer.

The panel had met three days in a row before the adjournment was announced after the grand jury wrapped up Thursday afternoon.

The delay will allow investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation “to continue evidence analysis and witness interviews,” Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office said in a statement.

It’s the second such delay for the panel, which was seated April 15 but didn’t begin work for two weeks while investigators continued their work.

One of the issues before the panel is whether adults like coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by Ohio law.

Before Thursday’s adjournment, DeWine had said the 14-person panel would meet three or four times a week with no deadline to finish its work. DeWine has said nothing is off the table for the panel.

Speculation that school officials could be targeted increased last week after investigators searched Steubenville High School and offices of the city school board.

Text messages introduced as evidence in the football players’ March trial indicated that head football coach Reno Saccoccia may have known about the rape early on.

The coach “took care of it,” defendant Trent Mays said in one text introduced by prosecutors.

“Like he was joking about it so I’m not worried,” Mays said in another text.

Saccoccia has not commented, and school officials say he won’t be made available until after the grand jury concludes.

Saccoccia is in the third year of a five-year coaching contract and earlier this year had a two-year contract renewed for his job as an administrator in a Steubenville alternative school.

Mays, 17, was convicted of raping the Weirton girl and of photographing the underage girl naked and sentenced to two years in the state juvenile prison system. Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, was convicted of raping the girl and sentenced to a year in juvenile prison.