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2:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Steubenville Schools Head, Others Charged In Teen Rape Case

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 4:05 pm

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. More fallout today from a rape case at an end of summer high school party last year in the town of Steubenville, Ohio. Now, five adults, including the superintendent of schools have been indicted by a special grand jury. None is accused of a direct role in the assault that drew national attention, but all are accused of trying to keep the case quiet. From member station WKSU, M. L. Schultze reports.

M. L. SCHULTZE, BYLINE: The Steubenville High School football team is preparing for the state semifinal playoffs this weekend. It's a point of pride for the town and a point of significant pain. That's because five adults are now facing criminal charges that they covered up the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two players on the team. The adult facing the most serious charges is the superintendent, Mike McVey, who is accused of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.

In announcing the charges against him, two high schools coaches and an elementary school principal, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said each was in a position to help the girl.

MIKE DEWINE: We must treat rape and sexual assault as a serious crime of violence that it is. And when it is investigated, everyone has an obligation to help find the truth, not hide the truth, not tamper with the truth, not obstruct the truth and not destroy the truth.

SCHULTZE: Within hours of the assault, images of it were circulating on social media, many portraying it as a joke. Just as quickly came allegations that adults were more interested in protecting the football team than ensuring justice. That led to protests spurred by group Anonymous that drew thousands of people to Steubenville last winter.

Two boys were convicted in juvenile court in March and that same day, DeWine formed the grand jury to consider cases against adults. Jamie Bernardi runs a domestic violence shelter in Steubenville and says there's an important message that's being learned.

JAMIE BERNARDI: What will need to work on to prevent things like this from happening is awareness. You know, these individuals got in trouble for a crime and repercussions are going to happen.

SCHULTZE: Rick Simmons teaches law at Ohio State University and says the public also exerted tremendous pressure.

RICK SIMMONS: And the social media pressure not only overcame the initial difficulty in the case of people not wanting to take it seriously, but also now it's led to indictments of other people who weren't being cooperative.

SCHULTZE: How those indictments play out won't be known until long after the high school football season ends. The first court appearance for McVey and his co-defendants is December 6. For NPR News, I'm M. L. Schultze. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.