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AG DeWine issues statement on Steubenville rape investigation


STEUBENVILLE — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine gave the following statement at a news conference held after the verdicts were read in the Steubenville rape trial:

Good morning.  I'm Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

First, let me make a comment about the verdict.  A prosecutor's most important duty is to seek justice.  I believe with these verdicts that justice has been done.  

However, this is not a happy time for anyone.  

Every rape is a tragedy.  This is a tragedy.

Before I explain what will happen next in our investigation, I think it is important to recap how and why my office got involved in this investigation and prosecution.

On August 16, 2012, the Steubenville Police Department asked the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to assist in processing the scene of a rape that occurred at a home in Wintersville, OH.  Our agent immediately responded and processed the scene.  

On August 17, 2012, the Police Department contacted BCI again and asked for our assistance in analyzing cell phones collected from the main suspects in the rape investigation and to process other forensic evidence.
 
On August 24, 2012, Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin filed three charges against a juvenile -- rape, kidnapping, and dissemination of nudity-oriented materials of a juvenile.  On that same day, Prosecutor Hanlin also filed charges of rape and kidnapping against a second juvenile.  

On August 27, 2012, Prosecutor Hanlin moved the Court to bind the juveniles over to be treated as adults.  On that same day, Prosecutor Hanlin formerly requested assistance from the Ohio Attorney General's office in the prosecution of the two juveniles.  Thereafter, the Common Pleas Court appointed my office as the prosecutor in this matter.  I then directed attorneys Marianne Hemmeter and Brian Deckert in our Special Prosecutions Section to handle the case.  

On October 12, 2012, the juvenile court of Jefferson County held a probable cause hearing for the two juveniles.  At that time, the Court determined that the two were and are amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile court system and therefore denied the motion to try them as adults.

As this case evolved, I assembled a team of 15 Special Agents from BCI to determine if any other crimes were committed.  I also assigned former Greene County Prosecutor and current Senior Advisor and Assistant Attorney General William Schenck to this team.

As part of our investigation, BCI agents identified 43 individuals who attended at least one of the two parties.  Investigators interviewed 27 of these individuals, while 16 refused to cooperate (giving various reasons).  Investigators also interviewed the owners of the residence where one of the two parties occurred.  Our investigators further interviewed the principal, superintendent, and 27 football coaches from Steubenville High School.   

To date, investigators have completed a total of 56 interviews.  Additionally, cybercrime specialists at BCI analyzed 13 phones.  From those phones, investigators reviewed and analyzed 396,270 text messages; 308,586 photos/pictures; 940 video clips; 3,188 phone calls; and 16,422 contacts listed in phones.

Let me turn now to where we go from here.  As I have indicated, we have been involved in an extensive investigation seeking to learn if any other individuals committed any crimes.  While we have interviewed almost 60 individuals, 16 people refused to talk to our investigators.  

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.  

Therefore, I am asking the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court to convene a Grand Jury to meet on or about April 15, 2013.  My prosecutors will present evidence to this Grand Jury for it to determine if other crimes have been committed.  I anticipate numerous witnesses will be called to testify.  The Grand Jury could meet for a number of days, and, I should point out, that the convening of a Grand Jury does not necessarily mean that indictments will be returned or that charges will be filed.  However, indictments could be returned and charges could be filed.

A Grand Jury is an investigative tool that is uniquely suited to ensure fairness and to complete this investigation.  And this community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth.

I would like to take a moment to talk -- not just as Attorney General, but as a parent and grandparent.  This has been particularly hard for the victim and her family.  As I said already, any rape is a tragedy.  But, it is even more of a tragedy when that victim is continually re-victimized in the social media.

This community has suffered and been through a lot.  This is a good community, with good people.  I personally feel for this community and what the citizens have been through, and I know that it desperately needs to be able to put this matter behind it and begin to move forward.  

Everything that has happened in Steubenville has been very difficult -- very, very sad -- and very tragic.  But let me be clear -- this is not just a Steubenville problem.  This is a societal problem.  

What happened here is shocking, and it is appalling.

But what's even more shocking and appalling is that crimes of sexual assault are occurring every Friday night and every Saturday night in big and small communities all across this country.  And there comes a point, where we must say, "Enough! This has to stop!"

Among some people, there seems to be an unbelievable casualness about rape and about sex.  It is a cavalier attitude -- a belief that somehow there isn't anything wrong with any of this.

Rape is not a recreational activity.  We, as a society, have an obligation do more to educate our young people about rape.  They need to know it is a horrible crime of violence.  And it is simply not ok.

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