Ohio rape case grand jury to meet Friday
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Ohio last year will reconvene later this week.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the grand jury will meet on Friday and will likely be in session just a single day.
DeWine told The Associated Press on Wednesday there’s little he can say about the panel’s work except that, as with all criminal cases, his office follows the facts to see where they take investigators.
The grand jury last met in August as it investigates possible crimes around the West Virginia girl’s rape by two Steubenville high school football players.
One issue is whether coaches or school administrators knew of the allegation but failed to report it as required by law.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the case of a 16-year-old girl raped in eastern Ohio last year has hit the five-month mark without criminal charges.
A chief issue before the 14-member panel is whether coaches, school administrators or other adults knew of the allegation but failed to report it as required by Ohio law.
The grand jury convened by Attorney General Mike DeWine has met periodically since its first meetings in late April and early May, when it heard three days of testimony and evidence.
DeWine announced the grand jury March 17, the same day a judge convicted two teens of raping the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party following a football scrimmage in August 2012.
Allegations of a cover-up dogged the case, despite charges brought against the boys shortly after the attack. Attention was fueled by online activists who said more football players should have been charged. Three teens who saw the attacks, including two players, were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony.
The National Organization of Women has long called for DeWine to prosecute a fourth teen who cracked jokes about the rape in a video that implies he had direct knowledge of the assault. His attorney says he did not.
Grand juries operate by different rules and thresholds of guilt and face few deadlines other than statutes of limitations, said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh criminal law professor. Prosecutors, who run the panels, aren’t obliged to say how long grand juries will meet or make promises about its conclusions, Harris said.
“The bottom-line answer is that this could take as long as it takes,” Harris said.
Former county prosecutor Mike Miller agreed, saying lengthy deliberations are more common in investigative grand juries looking at particular cases. By contrast, many counties have grand juries that meet daily, weekly or monthly to consider charges in more routine prosecutions.
“I’m sure that for something that’s pretty far ranging, they’ll get every bit of information they can before the grand jury,” said Miller, a private practice attorney in Columbus who was Franklin County prosecutor from 1980 to 1996.
DeWine has said he can’t give a timeline for when panel will finish its work. He said last month that forensic work involving cellphones and computers had yet to be completed.
ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer
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