Special grand jury hearing held

Allegations of witness intimidation were leveled by both sides in the criminal case involving Michael McVey, the Steubenville City Schools superintendent on leave because of an indictment returned by the special grand jury investigating aspects of the Steubenville rape case.

McVey was indicted on three counts of obstructing justice and single counts of tampering with evidence and falsification. The indictment states the alleged acts occurred between April 5, 2012, and Nov. 19, 2013.

A series of motions was heard Monday by visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove.

Among the motions by McVey’s attorney, Charles Bean, was a request for a list of persons who testified before the grand jury and a transcript of their testimony for Bean and Cosgrove.

Bean said the special grand jury met over a period of several months and there were numerous witnesses. He wants a transcript of the grand jury prepared so Cosgrove can review the witnesses’ testimony at trial with that of the grand jury testimony in case there are any inconsistencies.

Angela Canepa, assistant state attorney general, objected, saying statements and interviews taken by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation prior to the grand jury were given to Bean. She said grand jury proceedings are considered secret.

“Who testified at the grand jury is not relevant to who will testify at trial,” she said, adding it would be expensive for the transcript on the off chance someone’s grand jury testimony may or may not be consistent with trial testimony.

Canepa then went on to say people who have testified before the grand jury have suffered repercussions. She said statements were made to the witnesses of “you are either with us or against us.” Canepa said there was pressure put on witnesses not to cooperate with the grand jury, either before or after their testimony.

Bean countered saying witness intimidation will be an issue at trial on both sides.

Cosgrove took under advisement whether to grant Bean’s motions concerning grand jury witnesses and transcripts of testimony, saying the court needs to balance the secrecy of the grand jury with the administration of justice.

Bean had no comment after the hearing on Canepa’s allegation of witness intimidation.

Cosgrove granted Bean’s request for a bill of particulars from the state attorney general’s office. The bill of particulars will state exactly what the prosecution claims is the basis for the indictment.

Canepa objected to the request for a bill of particulars, saying 92 gigabytes of information was provided in evidence discovery to Bean. She said Bean has every piece of evidence gathered in the case

Cosgrove said the attorney general’s office has 20 days to provide the bill of particulars. She said details of the alleged crimes should be included other than what was contained in the indictment, which was basically the section of state law violated and the time when it occurred.

Bean said the indictment will be tested by the information contained in the bill of particulars.

Cosgrove also announced a trial date of Aug. 18 for McVey but that date may be in jeopardy because Bean just hired an expert to review the large amount of evidence presented in the case. A final pretrial has been scheduled for 11 a.m. on July 14 for both sides to provide a list of witnesses and exhibits.

The trial is expected to be lengthy, with the attorney general’s office submitting a witness list that totals 53 people. Bean submitted a witness list totaling 25, with many being on the attorney general’s list. The attorney general’s list includes city board of education members and staff, school employees and BCI agents and forensic experts.

Six people were indicted by the special grand jury investigating aspects surrounding the events before and after the rape of a Weirton teen by two Steubenville High School students in August 2012.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)