The uproar surrounding the case soon split the town into two furious camps; one that firmly believes there's a conspiracy to cover up a "rape culture" among the football team, and the other believing that the town's once-stellar reputation is being unfairly tarnished by outsiders who don't know all the facts.
Now, documents and photographs obtained exclusively by "20/20," along with never-before-seen taped police interviews with many of the teenage party goers, are shedding light on many of the facts of the case for the first time.
On the night of Aug. 11, 2012, Big Red ran a scrimmage to show off the team's newest talent. Trent Mays was a quarterback and honors student from a town 15 minutes outside of Steubenville. With a football coach for a father, Trent had the sport in his DNA. Ever since he could remember, he shared a dream that so many boys in this corner of the Ohio Valley do; to one day hear the roar of Big Red fans from the field.
A favorite target for Trent that night was wide receiver Ma'lik Richmond.
Ma'lik came from the rougher side of Steubenville. His earliest memories involve dodging stray bullets in his living room and watching most of his male role models being killed or incarcerated. He had turned to sports early in life as an escape from the realities around him.
That night, Trent and Ma'lik helped propel Big Red to victory. For the faithful who filled the stands, it was tempting to fantasize about winning a 10th state championship. For the players, it was an excuse to party.
Hours after the game, Trent, still relishing his role in Big Red's win, was receiving text messages from a girl he had been flirting with over social media, according to his lawyer. She was from just over the Ohio River in Weirton, W.Va., and, his lawyer says, persuaded him to come to a party where she was with several girlfriends.
Party No. 1:
When Trent and Ma'lik arrived, the narrow street outside the house of the party was crammed with cars. By some estimates, there were as many as 40 to 50 teenagers there and no adults. What was in abundance was alcohol, according to Ma'lik and several of the attendees. Witnesses said the girl who invited Trent was one of the more tipsy teens there.
"She had her arm wrapped around me and one hand on my chest. It just felt like she was coming on to me," Ma'lik told ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas in an exclusive interview for "20/20."
After midnight, the party was breaking up. The intoxicated girl, who would soon be at the center of a rape investigation, made it clear she wanted to leave with Trent, according to the police interviews with several of her friends. They also said she resisted their pleas for her not to leave with a car full of boys.
Nevertheless, the girl got into a car with Trent, Ma'lik and two other boys and drove off. In her interview with police exclusively obtained by ABC News, the alleged victim says there is little she remembers from the time between the first party and waking up the next morning.
"I remember everything that happened at the girl's house I was at but I don't remember anything past the point of me walking off the porch with him," she told them.
Party No. 2: