COLUMBUS - The state's attorney general said this morning he hopes local citizens will continue to have confidence in his office's ability to lead the prosecution of two Steubenville High School student-athletes who have been charged with the rape of an underage girl.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the case will be prosecuted and tried using an impartial judge, and "the job of a prosecutor is to find the truth - not just to prosecute."
The attorney general's office is handling the prosecution of Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville, who have been charged in connection with the alleged crime that was allegedly committed Aug. 11-12. The trial of the Steubenville High School student-athletes is set to begin Feb. 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.
DeWine said it wasn't unusual for the state to become involved in a case when there was a potential for a conflict of interest.
"We were asked to become involved by the local prosecuting attorney," said DeWine. "This is not unusual when there are (potential) conflicts with the local prosecutor."
Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin has recused herself from the case, as has Jefferson County Juvenile and Probate Judge Sam Kerr.
DeWine also said the attorney general's office is working on the case with the Steubenville Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He said state officials have no bias and are working actively on the case.
The Internet hacktivist group Anonymous has asserted more than the two individuals charged were involved in the alleged rape and has posted photos, tweets and other information from accounts of others they claim were at the scene of or possibly participated in the alleged crime. Anonymous also has made assertions a possible cover-up by local officials. A protest rally on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse last Saturday attracted 300 to 400 people, while another rally is planned for noon Saturday.
"Our job is to find the truth - not to just seek prosecution, but to seek justice," said DeWine. "The community should have great confidence we are approaching this with in an unbiased manner. It's a visiting judge. You have an independent attorney general's office prosecuting the case."
DeWine added, "This investigation is continuing. It's far from over. We encourage people to contact us if they have (evidence or information on the case.)"
DeWine said those with information on the case should contact BCI, at (855) 224-6446.