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Published: Wednesday, 3/27/2013

Steubenville teens ordered to stay off social media

Two girls accused of sending threatening tweets about rape victim

BY MOLLY BORN AND ALEX ZIMMERMAN
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- Two teenage girls accused of sending threatening tweets about the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville rape case were released on house arrest today and ordered not to use social media.

The girls, both 16, had been confined to juvenile detention since one turned herself in and the other was arrested March 18.

At today's hearing, the prosecution accepted the defense's request to allow the pair to go back to school and do sports or extra-curricular activities -- as long as they refrain from using social media and don't contact the victim.

The rule adds another layer to the conversations about what teens post online that have dominated this case and its aftermath.

Francesca Carinci, the attorney for one girls, said that means no accessing -- or even viewing -- Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, though there is no official list.

"I have advised the parents to just shut the accounts down altogether," she said.

Prosecutor Sam Pate warned that if the girls violate the terms of their house arrest, they could return to detention.

One teen, who was standing the hallway with her mother after the hearing, said she was threatened herself on Twitter but apologized for hurting anyone.

"I never meant to offend Jane Doe," the girl said.

Ms. Carinci raised questions about whether Jefferson County has jurisdiction to charge her client because she said the transmissions may have originated in West Virginia.

Mr. Pate said jurisdiction should not be an issue because "the fact that [the tweet] found its way into the state of Ohio gives us jurisdiction."

Judge Kerr agreed to turn the girls' cell phone over to the defense to allow them to conduct their own examination of where the transmissions were made.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Molly Born and Alex Zimmerman are reporters for the Post-Gazette. 



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