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Prosecution, defense rest their cases in Steubenville rape trial

 

The trial of two Ohio high school football players accused of raping a 16-year-old girl resumed on Saturday. NBC's Ron Allen reports.

The prosecution and defense in the trial of two Ohio high school football players charged with raping an incapacitated 16-year-old girl rested their cases and the judge said he would announce his verdict on Sunday morning.

After hearing closing arguments from both sides in the case, the judge presiding over the non-jury trial adjourned the proceedings for the evening to weigh the evidence before giving his verdict at 10 a.m.

The 16-year-old accuser in the trial of two Ohio high school football players charged with raping her while she was drunk at a party took the stand on Saturday and said she remembered little of what happened on the night she says she was assaulted.

The girl recounted drinking vodka mixed with store-bought frozen slushies at the party that evening, then finding herself sitting on a curb early the next day, after the alleged rape, with her hands between her legs, vomiting into the street.

She testified that she otherwise had no recollection of her own of what happened in the early hours of August 12, 2012, when witnesses in the case have said she was too drunk to move or talk.


Under its policy of keeping the names of accusers in rape cases confidential, Reuters is not identifying the girl.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, two members of the Steubenville High School football team, are charged as juveniles with raping the girl by digital penetration while she was essentially unconscious.

Mays and Richmond have denied raping her and say that any sexual contact that occurred was consensual.

The case, being tried before a judge rather than a jury, drew national attention to the Ohio steel town of Steubenville, 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, after photo and video images from the party were posted online appearing to document the assault.

The girl testified that she only learned what had happened to her from text messages, pictures and other bits of information posted on social media by classmates who witnessed the assaults. Some of those witnesses have testified.

Tearful reaction
Prosecutors displayed to her some of the pictures that circulated on social media, including one that showed her naked with what prosecutors say is semen on her stomach.

Keith Srakocic / Pool via Reuters

Trent Mays, 17, enters court for the fourth day of his trial on rape charges in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio.

The girl started crying as she looked at the photo, saying she had never seen the image before.

"Who is that in the photo?" prosecutor Marrianne Hemmeter asked.

"Me," the girl answered.

"How does it make you feel?" Hemmeter said.

"Not good."

The girl also testified that when she finally went to the hospital, after seeing a video in which classmates joked about the assault, she was reluctant to identify her assailants.

When Hemmeter asked her why, the girl replied: "Because honestly, I was praying that everything I heard wasn't true. I didn't want to get myself into drama because I knew everyone would just blame me."

Defense attorneys have questioned whether the witnesses in the case remembered details from the party or were just repeating rumors that circulated afterward through their social groups or from investigators looking into the rape allegations.

Keith Srakocic / Pool via Reuters

Ma'lik Richmond, 16, enters court for the fourth day of his and co-defendant, Trent Mays, 17, trial on rape charges in juvenile court on March 16, 2013 in Steubenville, Ohio.

Earlier on Saturday, the defense called two former friends of the accuser - Kelsey Weaver and Gianna Anile - who testified that the girl had a reputation for dishonesty.

Weaver, 17, testified the accuser had told her she liked Mays. Weaver also said she watched the accuser drink four shots of vodka and two beers and flirt with Richmond on the night she says the rape occurred.

Weaver said the accuser told her she thought she had been drugged as well - a conclusion Weaver said she did not believe. Asked by defense why she had doubts, Weaver said, "Because (she) lies about things."

Both Weaver and Anile were with the accuser on the night of the alleged rape. Both testified that they ended their friendship with her because of the accusations.

On Friday, Mark Cole, a teammate of Mays and Richmond, granted immunity for his testimony, said he recorded a video of Mays performing a sex act on the girl while she was passed out during a car ride between houses in Steubenville the night of the party, but he deleted the footage the next morning.

A second teammate, Evan Westlake, who also was granted immunity, testified he saw Richmond commit a sex act on the girl on the basement floor of a house that same night.

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21, and be required to register as sex offenders.

A very emotional trial in Steubenville, Ohio is continuing into the weekend, with two local high school football players accused of raping a teenage girl. "There's a lot of hurt in this community," said one resident. NBC's Ron Allen reports.

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