In what is being described as a marathon trial session, the Steubenville, Ohio, rape investigation continued on Thursday.
The trial, focusing heavily on cell phone images of the alleged 16 year old rape victim, is gaining an increasingly large national following.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, are both being charged with rape of a 16-year-old girl. In addition, Mays is being charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The two boys are members of the locally-esteemed Steubenville High School football team.
Cell phone company officials and computer forensic specialists from the Ohio Bureau of Investigation were on hand at the trial on Thursday. The officials were testifying in regards to several cell phone images of the victim in which she is seen being sexually abused by Mays and Richmond.
In one picture, the victim is seen with a blanket that has a semen stain on it. DNA tests confirm that the semen on the blanket was that of Mays.
The boys are not accused of having sexual intercourse with the girl. Rather, they are accused of penetrating the girl’s vagina with their fingers. Under Ohio law, this act still constitutes rape.
The case against Mays and Richmond does not hinge on whether the victim consented to sexual activity or not. Instead, it focuses on whether the victim was too impaired to give her consent or be aware of actions being done to her.
Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter argued that the victim was “too impaired to say no, too impaired to say stop.” Hemmeter added that the boys “treated the girl like a toy” with a string of degrading acts.
Six witnesses testified at the trial on Wednesday. The witnesses indicated that the victim was heavily intoxicated and vomiting on the night the abuse took place. One 17-year-old girl who attended the party with the victim said she and the victim consumed a half-bottle of vodka each in addition to beer. The witness added that the victim appeared to get drunk very quickly.
The same witness said the party ended at around 12:30 a.m., and she saw the victim leaving with Mays and Richmond at that time. The witness said she pleaded with the victim not to leave with them, but was not successful in convincing her. The witness picked the victim up at a different house the next day, and said the victim “looked like a mess.”
Another witness, also a 17-year-old girl, said that the victim was too impaired to lift her head up in a now-infamous picture of the victim being held by Mays and Richmond. Upon a cross examination, the witness said that although heavily impaired, the victim was conscious and able to answer questions.
A friend of Mays and Richmond who was present at the party on the night of the alleged abuse testified Wednesday as well. He said the victim appeared drunk, but did not believe she was unaware of what she was doing.
Hackers from the activist group “Anonymous” have publicized tweets and other social media postings made by students on the night of the alleged rape. Included is a 12-minute video in which several students can be heard joking about the events.
For Steubenville, Ohio, the controversial case is beginning to put a large and unwanted spotlight on the small town. Bob Fitzsimmons, a lawyer for the victim’s family, said "The family wants this matter over so they can move on with their lives and their daughter's healing."
The trial will continue late into the evening on Thursday.