STEUBENVILLE - Members of the Internet group Anonymous and others were expected to weather anticipated heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures for a third protest rally outside the Jefferson County Courthouse at noon today.
Organizers said the rally will be similar to previous rallies staged by the group in protest of authorities' handling of the investigation and prosecution of an Aug. 11-12 incident in which a 16-year-old Weirton girl was allegedly raped.
Two Steubenville High School student-athletes have been charged for the alleged incident. Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville also face charges of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.
Attorneys for both have denied the charges.
The case is set to go to trial March 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.
Earlier this week Lipps denied a motion for a change of venue and ruled it be held in open court.
Despite inclement weather, the first rally, on Dec. 29, drew 300 to 400 people. The second, on Jan. 5, drew an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people. Each received national and international attention through coverage by national media and postings on the Internet.
Through a Facebook page, organizers have asked those attending today's event to dress in Steubenville High School clothing or wear red and black, the school's colors.
An invitation on the page states, "We want to show the wonderful people of this community that we aren't attacking their city. We're fighting for the rights of Jane Doe (referring to the Weirton girl) as well as fighting a corrupt system that appears to have been in place for decades."
A Stand Up for Steubenville rally was held Jan. 12 in support of the community.
Another group, V-Day Akron, has announced plans to hold a flash mob at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 14 outside the courthouse to show support and demand justice for the alleged victim.
The group said the event is part of the One Billion Rising campaign in which V-Day groups around the world are expected to stage flash mobs, sit-ins, marches and other events to bring attention to the problem of sexual abuse of women.