STEUBENVILLE - The president of Ohio National Organization for Women hopes a petition concerning the Steubenville High School rape case handed to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Monday is another chip at the culture of athletes and sexual assault.
Jacqueline Hillyer, Ohio NOW president, said a petition with more than 85,000 signatures gathered by the organization and UltraViolet, another women's rights organization, demand a student, Michael Nodianos, be charged with failure to report a crime.
Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville have been charged with rape in connection with an incident that allegedly happened Aug. 11-12. Mays also faces a charge 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 defendants have denied the charges.
The trial is scheduled to begin on March 13 in juvenile court in the Jefferson County Justice Center.
Nodianos is seen in a 12-minute YouTube video making comments about the alleged rape. His attorney, Dennis McNamara in January said Nodianos wasn't at the house where the alleged rape occurred.
But the women's organizations want the Ohio Attorney General to prosecute Nodianos for failing to report a crime.
DeWine at another press conference on Monday said his office will announce after the rape trial of Mays and Richmond whether charges will be brought against others. DeWine said his office is continuing its investigation of the incident.
Hillyer said DeWine said he takes the crime of rape very seriously. She said Mays and Richmond, if found guilty could be held within the juvenile system until age 21.
"Our position is rape is not a juvenile crime. It is a felony," she said, adding she understands first-time offenders under state law have the opportunity for rehabilitation in the juvenile system.
"We are asking that people who had knowledge (of the alleged rape) and didn't report the crime be prosecuted. He (Nodianos) made a joke out of it. It was horrible and disgusting," she said.
Hillyer said the women's organizations are "chipping away at the culture" of society idolizing athletes who brag about sexual assaults.
"We need to get to the culture of care and a sense of human decency of not taking advantage of others. We need to transfer away from a system that glorifies violence," she said.
Hillyer said the women's groups will be watching for a change in the educational system through state legislation that brings awareness to sexual assault.
She added the group will be monitoring the upcoming trial and what happens after.