STEUBENVILLE, OH (WTOV/CNN) – The trial is set to begin Wednesday for two high school football players in Steubenville, OH, who are charged with rape.
Some local residents feel the accused are getting special treatment because they are star players.
A photo of a seemingly unconscious teenage girl carried by two young men sparked the outrage.
Now standing trial accused of raping her are two defendants younger than 18.
Their football teammates say they are both innocent.
“At this point we have denied the allegations,” defense attorney Adam Nemann said.
“She voluntarily got herself intoxicated not once did you hear her say or any witness that the state produced say, she didn’t want to do it,” defense attorney Walter Madison said.
But the prosecutor says that’s not so.
“She was unresponsive and not in a position of consent and they knew about it. And let’s be clear, they knew she was drunk,” Marianna Hemmeter said.
Police said the alleged rape occurred during all night partying on Aug. 11 after a varsity football scrimmage.
Three days later, the accuser’s mother went to the police, with a flash drive including Tweets and videos by fellow teens referring to that night in a vulgar manner.
Both teens were arrested, but critics like internet hacking group “Anonymous” accuse law enforcement of not being aggressive enough.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla says the boys have not gotten preferential treatment.
“No. That’s not true. They’re facing charges,” he said.
Sheriff Abdalla believes some of what is being posted online and on social media about the case is false.
“It gives us a black eye. And when you have people continue to put false information out there, you know, it’s tough to make it go away,” he said.
Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty said despite many pleas, few witnesses came forward.
“The thing I found most disturbing is depending on who actually was there, why didn’t somebody stop it,” he asked.
Both are charged with rape.
One is also is accused of “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.”
Since they are juveniles, the verdict will be decided by a judge in what is called a bench trial.
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