Grand jury begins work in Ohio rape investigation
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A grand jury on Tuesday began investigating whether other laws were broken in the case of a 16-year-old girl raped by two high school football players after an alcohol-fueled party last summer.
One of the questions before the 14-person panel meeting in Steubenville in eastern Ohio is likely to be whether adults such as coaches or school administrators knew about the rape allegation but failed to report it.
School superintendent Mike McVey has previously acknowledged that he, other administrators and head football coach Reno Saccoccia were interviewed by investigators in the days leading up to the March trial.
Text messages introduced at trial indicated that Saccoccia may have known about the allegation but didn't report it. If true, that would violate Ohio law requiring coaches and others to report suspected abuse. Saccoccia has declined to comment and the school board has declined to make him available.
Investigators on Thursday searched Steubenville High School and the local school board offices.
"We have been from the beginning and are continuing to fully cooperate with the authorities in this investigation," the Steubenville school board said in a statement Thursday.
Investigators also searched Vestige Digital Investigations, a digital forensics storage company in Medina in northeast Ohio. The company's connection to the case was unclear and it denies it's the subject of a criminal investigation.
The owners of a home where a photo was taken of the girl being carried by the two boys later convicted of raping her have also been interviewed by investigators.
That home is the same place a 12-minute cellphone video was filmed of a former student laughing and making crude jokes about the victim and the attack as others laughed in the background.
The National Organization of Women has demanded that Attorney General Mike DeWine charge the student seen in the video, Michael Nodianos, with failure to report a crime.
Nodianas' attorney has said his client regrets his actions but didn't have direct knowledge of the attack.
The emergence of the video helped spur allegations of a cover-up and frustration that more people weren't charged in the rape.
DeWine says nothing is off the table for the grand jury, which he announced within hours of the guilty verdict March 17.
"What I promised the Steubenville community was we would get this over as quick as we could, but more importantly, we would do it right," DeWine said last week after announcing the search warrants.
The grand jury, which meets in secret, will convene three to four days a week and hear from dozens of witnesses, DeWine said.
A judge convicted the teens in March of raping the Weirton, W.Va., girl with their fingers after the party, once in a moving car, the second time in the basement of a house. The boys were sentenced to one- and two-year terms in the state juvenile detention system.
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