Ohio AG: Search warrants executed in rape case

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Police officers and investigators Thursday were searching the high school attended by two football players who raped a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party last summer, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.


Search warrants also were executed at Vestige Ltd., a digital evidence company in northeastern Ohio, in addition to Steubenville High School and the offices of the Steubenville school board in eastern Ohio, DeWine said. The search warrants are part of an attempt to learn whether other laws were broken in connection with the rape.


“What I hope people will believe when we’re done is that we did everything we could to find the truth and that justice was done,” DeWine said in an interview. “What you’re seeing today is just part of that effort.”


Police officers and investigators began serving the warrants about 2 p.m., were still on site a couple of hours later and could work into the night, DeWine said. There was no immediate word on what the searches turned up.


The searches come as a 14-person grand jury prepares to hear from witnesses in Steubenville Tuesday, two weeks after the panel was seated.


Judges sealed investigators’ requests for the search warrants at the request of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation on the grounds that disclosing them “would be detrimental to the ongoing criminal investigation,” according to the judges’ orders.


Phone and email messages left Thursday for Steubenville schools Superintendent Michael McVey Thursday weren’t immediately returned.


A chief issue before the grand jury is whether adults, especially any in supervisory positions over children, may have known about the rape but failed to report it as required by state law.


Text messages introduced during the March trial indicated that head football coach Reno Saccoccia may have known about the assault early on.


Vestige spokesman Greg Kelley said in an email that the company’s policy “is not to comment on any matter that may be entrusted to us.”


The company’s website says its goal is helping clients “make educated and informed decisions about their approach and application regarding electronic evidence.”


A judge convicted the teens in March of raping the Weirton, W.Va., girl 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.


The case has long been dogged by allegations of a cover-up and questions about why other people weren’t also charged.


DeWine announced on the day of the verdict that he was convening the grand jury and said nothing was off the table as far as the panel’s investigation.


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