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Published: Sunday, 3/17/2013

Teen testifies under immunity that he videotaped Steubenville assault

BY TORSTEN OVE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
Trent Mays, 17, left, and co-defendant 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond sit in court before the start of the third day of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court today in Steubenville, Ohio. Trent Mays, 17, left, and co-defendant 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond sit in court before the start of the third day of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court today in Steubenville, Ohio.
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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- A friend of two Steubenville High School football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl last summer testified today under a grant of immunity that he videotaped one boy in a car penetrating the girl with his fingers and watched the other assault her in the same manner in the basement of a house.

Mark Cole, 17, who had testified at a preliminary hearing in October, largely repeated the same story today.

He said he saw defendant Trent Mays, 17, molest the heavily intoxicated girl in his, Mark's, car on the night of Aug. 11 on their way to Mark's house after a night of partying and drinking at another teen's house.

"He inserted his fingers into her vagina," Mark told the judge in the juvenile court trial of Trent and his friend Malik Richmond, 16.

Later in the basement, he said, he saw Trent trying to have the girl participate in oral sex as she lay naked on the floor while Malik lay behind her and digitally penetrated her.

Asked why he videotaped the first act in the car, he said he was being dumb.

"It was one of those moments where you realize you did something wrong and stupid," he said, adding that he deleted the video from his phone the next day.

The attorney general's office has said the only reason he hasn't been charged with a crime is that a forensics expert was unable to recover that video. Before the October preliminary hearing, the AG had given Mark and two other eyewitnesses, Evan Westlake and Anthony Craig, letters indicating that there was not enough evidence to charge them with failure to report a crime or other offenses because the crime lab couldn't recover cell phone images that were discussed in texts.

All three testified at the preliminary hearing with the expectation that they would not be charged, and today visiting Judge Thomas Lipps granted them immunity from prosecution after they pleaded the Fifth Amendment protecting them from self-incrimination.

While the crime lab was unable to find images on the 17 cell phones police seized in the aftermath of the incident, technicians did recover hundreds of incriminating text messages from among the various partygoers that night and in the days that followed.

In the early morning of Aug. 12, after Mark had departed from his house for a while and left the girl in the basement with Malik and Trent, he sent a text message to Trent that said: "Seriously, dude, don't ... rape her."

The following afternoon, Trent sent Mark a text asking him to send the video he had shot in the car.

"I ain't sending that," Mark replied.

When Trent persisted, Mark texted that he wouldn't because the video could be used to prosecute them.

When Mark asked Trent if he'd had intercourse with her, Trent said no.

In another text to someone else, however, Trent had said he did have sex.

Evan Westlake testified this afternoon that he also saw Trent and Malik sexually assaulting the girl in the basement while she was unresponsive.

In texts, he later asked Trent for details.

"We didn't even [have sex]," Trent said.

"What happened?" Evan asked.

He replied in a coarse manner that the girl had masturbated him.

The trial will continue until at least 9 p.m. tonight and will resume Saturday and Sunday.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Torsten Ove is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.



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