Steubenville, weary of investigation, not done yet

CNN News Wire | 3/18/2013, 11:26 a.m.

It's not over in Steubenville, Ohio.

Although a judge has found two Steubenville teenagers guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl in a case that showcased jaw-dropping examples of teenage alcohol use and tawdry text messaging--all wrapped in allegations of a cover-up--Ohio'as attorney general said Monday it's now time for a grand jury to look at whether anyone else should be charged.

"I think the Steubenville community needs really two things. One is to get this over with," Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a nod to frustration the continued investigation is likely to cause in the city--a small, down-on-its-luck Ohio River mill town that's been the focus of intense criticism and media coverage for months.

"But the other is to believe that justice has been done, that we have left no stone unturned and that anyone who is criminally liable has been brought to justice," he said.

Grand jury
DeWine said state investigators have examined tens of thousands of text messages, images and videos and talked to 56 witnesses--from teenagers who attended the parties to assistant football coaches and the high school principal.

But 16 people who may know something about what happened that August night have refused to talk, he said.

"I have reached the conclusion that this investigation cannot be completed--that we cannot bring finality to this matter--without the convening of a grand jury," he said in a statement Sunday.

The grand jury will begin meeting around April 15 and could take "a number of days" to complete its work, DeWine said.

"And I should point out that the convening of a grand jury, of course, does not necessarily mean that indictments will be returned or that charges will be filed," he said.

"A grand jury is an investigative tool that is uniquely suited to ensure fairness and to complete this investigation," DeWine said in the Sunday statement. "And this community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth."

Guilty verdicts
DeWine's announcement of the grand jury came shortly after Judge Thomas Lipps found Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, guilty of rape. Lipps, who was hearing the case without a jury, also found Mays guilty of disseminating a nude photo of a minor.

Authorities accused Mays and Richmond of putting their fingers in the girl's vagina while she was too drunk to consent, an act that constitutes rape under Ohio law.

The incident took place during a series of alcohol-fueled end-of-summer parties in August.

Some of the abuse was documented in photographs shown in court and in texts read aloud during testimony, including one text in which a state forensics investigator testified Mays wrote, "I should have raped since everyone thinks I did."

Lipps sentenced Mays to a minimum of two years in a juvenile correctional facility. Richmond received a minimum of one year. Juvenile authorities could decide to keep both in custody until they turn 21.

They must undergo treatment and will have to register as sex offenders, Lipps ruled.