STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Prosecutors Thursday introduced graphic text messages in the trial of two Ohio high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl.
The texts include messages from the alleged victim in which she says she doesn’t remember the night of the attack and is trying to find out what happened. The girl also implies that she believes she was drugged that night.
“Swear to God I don’t remember doing anything with them,” the girl wrote to a friend who authorities say saw the assaults.
“I wasn’t being a slut. They were taking advantage of me,” she also wrote to the same boy.
Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17, are charged with digitally penetrating 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. The two maintain their innocence.
Prosecutors insist she was too drunk to consent to sex, while defense attorneys have portrayed her as someone who was intoxicated but still in control of her actions. Witnesses have said the girl was so drunk she threw up and had trouble walking and speaking.
Special Judge Thomas Lipps is hearing the case without a jury. He told participants Thursday he would keep the trial in session well into the evening and through the weekend.
The case has riveted the small city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and 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.
The texts introduced Thursday in juvenile court also included ones in which Mays admitted that he digitally penetrated the girl.
He also sent messages to his friends to try to get them to gloss over what happened that night. In a text to a boy who lives in the house where the second attack is said to have happened, Mays wrote, “Just say she came to your house and passed out.”
Authorities said they collected 17 cellphones in their investigation. The evidence they yielded is considered crucial to prosecutors’ case against the boys because of photos taken that evening.
Three teenage boys who are key to the prosecution’s case are still to take the stand this week. Defense attorneys could call the girl to testify since a West Virginia judge ruled Tuesday night that she and two of her friends could be subpoenaed.
If convicted, Mays and Richmond could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.
The Associated Press normally does not identify minors charged in juvenile court, but Mays and Richmond have been widely identified in news coverage, and their names have been used in open court.