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US school football stars go on trial for rape

Hearings begin in Ohio juvenile court amid claims of police favouritism and questions over role of social media.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2013 17:36

Attorneys for two US high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl have withdrawn
motions to dismiss the case after a judge determined that the girl and two friends would be compelled to testify.

The trial began on Wednesday and is expected to last all week in juvenile court in the US state of Ohio.

The defence sought dismissal after a West Virginia judge initially rejected requests that the girl and two other juveniles from there be called to testify in Ohio.

The judge reversed that ruling on Tuesday after having a hearing on the matter.

The players' attorneys say the juveniles' testimony could bolster the defence.

The case has brought unprecedented attention to Steubenville, in eastern Ohio, through social media and online criticism that others should have been charged.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office is prosecuting the case after the local prosecutor in Steubenville stepped down to avoid partiality because her son is also a football player.

Attorneys for 16-year-old MaLik Richmond and 17-year-old Trent Mays have contested the charges and are seeking to have Mays' case dismissed because of an inability to subpoena certain witnesses.

The suspects were arrested after a phone-camera picture of the victim on the night she was allegedly sexually assaulted was emailed to many people in the community.

Police say she was unable to recall what happened.

The case has attracted attention over allegations that more students should have been charged for failing to stop the attack or knowing about it and not alerting authorities.

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