STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A 16-year-old girl was “substantially impaired” after an alcohol-fueled party, was unable to consent to sex and suffered humiliation and degradation when she was raped by two high school football players, a prosecutor said Wednesday in his opening statement at the boys’ trial.
But a lawyer for defendant Trent Mays said his 17-year-old client “did not rape the young lady in question.”
Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter and Mays’ attorney, Brian Duncan, spoke at the opening of the juvenile court trial that has drawn international attention to a small town in a football-loving region of eastern Ohio.
Hemmeter told Judge Thomas Lipps, who is hearing the case without a jury, that she would show that the girl was “somebody who was too impaired to say no, somebody who was too impaired to say stop.”
The attorney for Mays’ co-defendant, for Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, gave no opening statement.
The case has divided the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged. It has also led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.
Attorneys for Richmond and Mays had sought to have the case dismissed after a judge in West Virginia initially rejected requests that the girl and two other juveniles from that state be called to testify at the trial in eastern Ohio. The judge reversed that ruling late Tuesday after hearing arguments on the matter, and the defense attorneys withdrew the request for dismissal.
The players’ attorneys say the testimony from all three juveniles could bolster the defense.
Richmond and Mays are charged with digitally assaulting the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party Aug. 11 and then in the basement of a house. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
Witnesses said the girl was so drunk she threw up at least twice and had trouble walking and speaking. She was also photographed being carried by the two young men.