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Published: Friday, 3/15/2013

Teens’ texting described in Steubenville rape trial

Expert: Messages speak of sex acts, cover-up

BY TORSTEN OVE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
From left, Defense attorney Adam Nemann, his client, defendant Trent Mays, 17, and co-defendant 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond listen to testimony during Mays and Richmond's trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Thursday in Steubenville. From left, Defense attorney Adam Nemann, his client, defendant Trent Mays, 17, and co-defendant 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond listen to testimony during Mays and Richmond's trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Thursday in Steubenville.
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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A teen accused of raping a drunk school girl after an alcohol-fueled party last summer in Steubenville sent and received a flood of text messages in the aftermath of the incident, initially saying he had sex with the girl but later denying it as friends questioned what happened.

Profanity-laced texts to and from Trent Mays, 17, one of two Steubenville High School football players charged with raping the girl on Aug. 11, were described Thursday in detail by a forensics expert from the Ohio crime lab testifying for the prosecution in the trial of the Mays youth and his friend, Malik Richmond, 17.

JoAnn Gibb, the expert, said she examined young Mays’ phone and 16 others seized from the party-goers on Aug. 14.

The flurry of texts between Aug. 12 and Aug. 14 show the suspect initially unconcerned about what happened but later asking his friends to cover up for him by lying.

He initially told another teen that he had sex with the girl but later texted a different sexual scenario.

On Aug. 12, a teen asked young Mays in a text if he had sex with the girl. He texted back: “Yep.”

He later told another friend that the girl came to the party, brought food, and had sex. “She knew what’s up.”

The other teen texted: “You’re a felon.”

“Not really,” he replied.

The Mays youth said in another text that, “I shoulda raped now that everybody thinks I did” but that the girl “wasn’t awake enough.” He also texted a female friend, who was grilling him about the incident, that the girl had been passed out or asleep at the home of Mark Cole, but woke up at 3 a.m. He said they started making out but denied he had sex with her.

At least one photo circulated among the teens and described by witnesses shows what they said appears to be semen on the girl, and several text messages refer to semen.

As the story of that night spread and the girl, her father, and other teens began making accusations, young Mays asked friends who had been with him to lie for him by saying he had helped the girl to bed and didn’t have sexual relations with her, according to the text messages.

“Just say she came to your house and passed out,” he texted Mark Cole.

Another boy promised to help, texting, “I’ll just say they were just trying to take care of her.”

The supsect also indicated in another series of texts that police likely would look at his texts in their investigation and urged others to delete messages from their phones. In addition, he implicated the Steubenville High School football coach, Reno Saccoccia, saying he had talked to the coach about the incident and felt it would be “taken care of.”

“He was joking about it so I’m not worried,” he texted.

In other texts, the alleged victim told her friends she didn’t know what happened to her and expressed outrage when she read messages from others indicating that she had been assaulted while nearly passed out from drinking.

“I swear to God,” she said in one message, “I don’t remember doing anything with them” she said of the two suspects.

“I remember hearing Trent’s voice telling me to do something, but I said no.”

She said in a text that “I wasn’t being a slut. They were taking advantage of me” and told her friends she thought she had been drugged.

Most of the day’s testimony focused on young Mays’ messages, but Ms. Gibb did describe one pertaining to young Richmond. When a friend asked him if he did anything with the girl, he replied in a text that he performed oral sex on her.

The trial will resume today and extend into Sunday, the judge said.

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

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



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