Two more charged in Steubenville rape case
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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- The victimization through social media of a 16-year-old girl who was raped at a party last August hasn't ended, police said -- even though a judge found two Steubenville High School football players delinquent of the crime on Sunday.
Two teenage girls have been accused of sending threatening tweets about the rape victim, a day after Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were sent to juvenile detention for raping the West Virginia girl.
On Monday, Steubenville police arrested a 16-year-old girl, a relative of Ma'lik. A 15-year-old turned herself in the same day, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.
The girls appeared at a detention proceeding Tuesday morning in Jefferson County Juvenile Court. They are charged with intimidation of a victim, a felony, and aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment, both misdemeanors.
Asked if their tweets were about the 16-year-old rape victim, Sheriff Abdalla said "no question."
"We're monitoring Twitter 24 hours a day," he said.
Jefferson County assistant prosecutor Sam Pate said it appeared few lessons have been learned about the seriousness of posting on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
"It's beyond me why these young people believe it's OK to post things of this nature on social media," he said.
Numerous Steubenville residents said the reason the crime attracted national and international interest was because details emerged initially on the Internet -- not in a courtroom.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine noted these social media apsects at a news conference Sunday, where he announced that a grand jury would convene in mid-April to address whether others should be charged.
"I think it's difficult when the victim is continually re-victimized in social media," he said then.
Although the girl's name has been made public, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does not identify accusers in and victims of sex crimes.
Sheriff Abdalla also said the 15-year-old started apologizing on Twitter for making death threats, but she was charged for only the threatening tweet authorities found.
Her attorney, Francesca Carinci, said her client is a good student, whose family she knows personally, and who had never been in trouble before.
"I think, first of all, we need to calm down and reflect [about what] the kids really said and if it's a genuine threat," she said. "We are operating under a heightened sense of hysteria."
The girl posted that she would beat up Jane Doe, the name often used to describe the victim during the rape trial.
Ms. Carinci also said her client was herself attacked on social media for supporting one of the defendants in the rape case, who is a friend.
Raven Harris, Ma'lik Richmond's first cousin, said her sister, the 16-year-old defendant, was actually quoting lyrics by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill in her tweet.
"People post lyrics every day about murder. They might be murderers for real," said Ms. Harris, who is also the girl's guardian.
Sheriff Abdalla said the girl's tweet was: "You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you. ... it's going to be a homicide."
The lyric in the rapper's song "Traumatized" is: "You ripped my family apart and made my momma cry. So when I see you ... it's gon' be a homicide."
Ms. Harris noted that her family has received numerous threats throughout the trial.
The teens will appear in court for a hearing March 27. If the two deny charges, the case will move to a pretrial hearing, chief probation officer Fred Abdalla Jr. said.
If they admit to them, the judge could proceed with a disposition that day and discuss possible Department of Youth Services placement. The teens could spend months in juvenile detention if adjudicated delinquent, a finding comparable to being found guilty in adult criminal court.
First Published March 20, 2013 12:00 am