Attorneys for the two high school football players who face rape charges said today they are considering asking for their upcoming trial to be moved away from Steubenville, Ohio, where emotions are running high.
Brian Duncan and Walter Madison, who are representing the juvenile suspects, told The Associated Press that potential witnesses are reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation and worry their names and addresses could be published on the Internet by protesters.
Madison told the AP that if the motion is filed, it would include moving the trial and closing the proceedings.
The suspects, both 16 years old, are scheduled to stand trial in juvenile court on Feb. 13 before a visiting judge.
The football-crazed steel town has become the center of a rape scandal after hacking collective Anonymous leaked a video of Steubenville high school athletes mocking the 16-year-old girl who made the accusations and making crude references to the alleged rape.
On Saturday, authorities, battling allegations of a cover-up, announced the creation of a new website to debunk rumors and create what they said would be a transparent resource for the community.
“This site is not designed to be a forum for how the Juvenile Court ought to rule in this matter,” the website, called Steubenville Facts, said.
A timeline of the case, beginning with the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a party on Aug. 11-12, 2012, is posted on the site. Summaries of Ohio law relating to the case and facts about the local police force including statistics on how many graduated from Steubenville schools, is included.
Authorities investigated the case and charged two Steubenville high school athletes on Aug. 22, 2012.
Protesters have called for more arrests, however Steubenville Police have said their hands are tied.
“Steubenville Police investigators are caring humans who recoil and are repulsed by many of the things they observe during an investigation,” the website said, addressing the video. “Like detectives in every part of America and the world, they are often frustrated when they emotionally want to hold people accountable for certain detestable behavior but realize that there is no statute that allows a criminal charge to be made.”
On Saturday, an estimated 1,300 people attended a rally outside the Jefferson County Courthouse, after the grassroots group Occupy Steubenville, posted an online call to organize.