Arguments presented on whether to open Steubenville rape case to public

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Lawyers debated this afternoon in an Ohio courtroom over whether the upcoming trial of two Steubenville High School football players accused of raping a 16-year-old girl should be open to the public.

Prosecutors with the attorney general's office in Ohio appeared before visiting Judge Thomas Lipps, presiding in Jefferson County Juvenile Court, to argue that the proceedings should be sealed to protect the victim.

Lawyers for various media outlets told the judge the trial should be open to ensure transparency and public confidence in how the high-profile case is being handled.

The judge is expected to rule next week on the issue.

The players, Malik Richmond and Trent Mays, are accused of attacking the girl after a party in August in Steubenville. Three other students who witnessed the alleged assault, but have not been charged, are expected to testify when the case goes to trial next month.

The girl, who attends a high school across the river in West Virginia, wants the trial closed to the public to protect her identity. Her parents also want the trial closed, as does the attorney for Malik Richmond.

The news organizations, including the Associated Press, New York Times, CNN and others, say the trial should be open because of widespread speculation in the community that the case was not investigated aggressively, considering that the alleged attackers are members of the football team in a town that identifies itself with the team.

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Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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