|Rape Victim's Parents Want Case Over|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27)||Mar 18, 2013, 12:16 PM|
The parents of the 16-year-old victim at the center of the Steubenville rape trial are faced with a new grand jury investigation, but indicated today they do not want additional people charged in the case because they want "their little girl to have her life back."
"The family just wants everything over. That's their desire," the victim's family's attorney Robert Fitzsimmons told ABCNews.com today. "They were hoping that the charges had been completed and that justice was served yesterday and they hope that they can move on with their lives."
The lawyer spoke a day after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a grand jury would convene in mid-April to investigate whether there could be additional indictments or charges in the case.
"The family is not the type of people that they're out looking for heads," Fitzsimmons said. "They never have done that. The just want things that were wrong to be addressed and justice to be served the way it has been. They want their little girl to have her life back and their family to have their life back."
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were both found delinquent -- the juvenile court equivalent of guilty -- on Sunday of the sexual assault of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.
Both were sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail and could be held until they are 21. Mays was sentenced to an additional year for a charge related to distributing nude images of a minor. Attorneys for both of the defendants said they plan to appeal.
DeWine said the case is not over. Investigators identified people who attended the party where the assault took place. Most were interviewed, but others refused to cooperate for various reasons.
Additionally, owners of a home where one of several parties took place that night were interviewed, as well as dozens of school officials, including more than two dozen football coaches from Steubenville High School.
Advocacy groups have called for additional charges in the case and for more people to be held legally responsible for what happened.
Experts say it's unlikely that any of these other people could be held legally responsible for the events of the night or their actions--or lack of action, in some cases--in the days and months that followed.
There is an Ohio law that makes it a crime not to report a felony, like rape, but the law is rarely used.
"That's a law that's rarely used in any state, I would believe, but certainly rarely used in Ohio just because it's very hard to prove that someone actually knew a felony was occurring," attorney and professor Ric Simmons told ABCNews.com. "We also don't usually prosecute crimes of omission. Not doing something is not usually illegal."
Simmons is a law professor at Ohio State University and a former assistant district attorney in New York.
"As a general rule, you don't prosecute people for failure to report. It's a very oppressive state if you're constantly reporting on others," Christo Lassiter, a professor of law and criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati's College of Law, told ABCNews.com. "It's not good morality to stand by and watch someone get raped and take a picture, but it's not something you prosecute as law."
Simmons reiterated that it would be difficult to bring charges against the other people at the party who may have witnessed or heard something.
"You'd have to actually know that a rape occurred or some crime occurred," he said. "If they heard second hand or people were telling jokes and so on about this, I think it would be really hard to meet the standard required for the state of mind to say that someone actually knew that a crime occurred."
Both attorneys also said it would be a challenge to go after the owners of the homes where the parties occurred. Simmons said there might be some civil liability for the underage drinking and the fact that the events happened in the home, but did not think there could be criminal charges for what happened.
It would also be difficult to charge the football coaches or school officials with wrongdoing, Simmons said.
There are some professions like teachers, counselors, coaches, doctors, prosecutors and law enforcement officials that are "mandatory reporters." They are legally required to report a crime they know occurred.
In text messages read in court during the four-day trial, Mays indicated that one of his football coaches was aware of the rape and "took care of it."
The experts also noted that the move to convene a grand jury could be a gesture to assure the public that all due process is being taken in a case that has gained national attention.
"You can't completely ignore in good faith the outcry that did occur," Simmons said.
Fitzsimmons, the victim's family's attorney, said that it is clear that there are "a bunch of individuals that we now know should have done some things and didn't" and defers to the attorney general's office.
"With the grand jury, that's up to attorney general DeWine, who has just done a great job in the case, and he's doing what he thinks is right and I wouldn't question his motives," Fitzsimmons said. "I think he's just trying to be thorough and I think that's a wonderful thing."
"Steubenville probably needs that to make sure that everything is broom swept clean and that everything has been done the right way," he added.