Steubenville City Officials, Chief of Police hold press conference regarding teen rape

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - Steubenville's City Manager, Chief of Police and city leaders held a press conference Saturday regarding the videotaped rape of a teenage girl.

"We respond to rumors with facts," said City Manager Cathy Davison as she announced the creation of a new website: Steubenvillefacts.org, a website created by the city as a direct response to protesters who rallied just around the corner, moments after that press conference came to an end. 

The website is sponsored by the City of Steubenville and the Steubenville Police Department with the goal of disseminating the most accurate information the sexual assault charges pending against two juveniles in Steubenville. City officials will update the site as new information becomes available.

All this, after video surfaced last week related to the case of teenage girl allegedly being raped by two teenage boys. The video reportedly stems back to an incident reported in August 2012.

As the press conference ended in Steubenville Saturday, chants could be heard from across the street.

Crowds shouted in unison from the Jefferson County Courthouse's steps, "Charge them all," and "Rape is not a sport!"

(Click here to see a photo gallery from the rally: http://5.wews.com/gA8H3)

The rally was orchestrated by members of the online hacking group, "Anonymous." A sea of their "V for Vendetta" masks covered the front steps of the county court house.  Other members, both from and from outside of Steubenville, joined masked protesters. 

Chants and screams were directed at the County Sheriff, who at one point, also spoke on the microphone.  He was "booed" several times.

Some called for members of the Steubenville Police Department to be fired.  Others called for the head coach of the high school football team to be removed in what many claim is a town cover-up to support prized athletes.

"Where did the kidnapping charge go?" shouted one protester.  "Why aren't other's charged?" shouted another. 

Toni Gilkerson of Harrison County said she came on her own accord, "These boys are walking around.  One of them was in the county I live in.  I don't want that trash walking around where I live."

But the purpose of this rally was said to be to support the 16-year-old West Virginia victim.   And at one point in the rally, several women, victims of rape themselves, were asked to share their stories over the microphone in hopes that it'll spread awareness. 

"… and I decided not to press charges because it took place at my friend's house and I didn't want to get my friends in trouble," said a young teenage girl, crying, as she described what had after she was raped by an older student she had a crush on.  

While this went on outside the County Courthouse, a second and smaller rally was held at a nearby school where parents and community members discussed how this case and the criticism from it, has changed their lives.

"It's been crazy," said Jeno Atkins, a Senior and "Big Red" football player.   He continued, "…we tried to get ourselves together as a football team and all these people you know, we had nothing to do with the rape, [they] sent us death threats and said, 'You need to be lined up and shot."

Rich Foust who said he's not a father, still came to support the district's students and said, "It's like a modern day witch hunt you know.  Everybody's assuming things.  It just needs to be taken to court and let the justice system handle this."

As all of this went on, city officials still stood by one another Saturday. 

City Manager Davison said earlier she has no doubts the police handled the investigation properly and expressed confidence that the case is now in state hands making sure to note, "The football team does not run the city."

While Davison said in the press conference there will be timely updates on the case posted to Steubenville.org, she also commented evidence of the case will not be given as it is for the judge and court system to evaluate. 

With announcing the new website, officials also provided information on the timeline of events connected with this case:

-August 11-12, 2012. The incident that began this case\ occurred.

-August 14, 2012. The incident was reported to Steubenville Police.

-August 16, 2012. Electronic devices of people who potentially had knowledge of the incident were taken, pursuant to search warrants.

-August 17, 2012. Steubenville Police request technical and investigative support from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (a state agency supervised by the Ohio Attorney General). At the request of Steubenville Police, BCI expedited the evidence analysis. The analysis involved uncovering and reviewing tens of thousands of emails, texts, and photos from approximately a dozen electronic devices. The vast majority of such data was unrelated to the case. Investigators and forensic examiners never found any video of the alleged crime.

-August 22, 2012. Based on the investigation of the Steubenville Police, two juvenile

males were arrested and charged. Their names are Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond. Suspects remained in juvenile detention until November 1, 2012 when the Visiting Judge (from outside the county) assigned to the case placed the suspects on home arrest.

-August 28, 2012. County Prosecuting Attorney delegates her authority to special prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General 2019s Office.

Steubenville is located in southeastern Ohio.

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