A grand jury investigating possible additional charges in the rape of a 16-year-old girl at a party in Steubenville last summer won’t hear from witnesses for about two weeks after it is convened Monday.
The announcement was made Thursday by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Without offering details, Dewine said the delay relates to his office’s continuing evaluation of evidence.
“We have to do this right,” DeWine said Thursday. “We are still evaluating and going through some evidence and we do not want to start this process until we have done that.”
He said the decision was made to get the seating of the grand jury out of the way first, and said that would most likely conclude Monday.
A judge last month convicted two Steubenville high school football players of raping the girl after an alcohol-fueled party in August.
Immediately after the verdict, DeWine announced that he would convene a Jefferson County grand jury to investigate whether other laws were violated. One avenue the grand jury is likely to explore is whether other people knew about the rape but failed to report it.
That could include members of the football team’s coaching staff. Testimony at trial indicated that head football coach Reno Saccoccia may have known early on about the allegation. Saccoccia has not commented and the school district has said it won’t comment until after the grand jury investigation.
Numerous teenagers including the victim were drinking at the party that night, with testimony indicating many of them brought alcohol to the house where the party was held.
Asked Thursday if the grand jury would consider charges related to underage drinking, DeWine said everything is being looked at.
“There will be nothing that is beyond the bounds of the grand jury,” he said.
The investigation could result in new charges or none at all, DeWine said. He said any potential charges against juveniles would be referred to the local prosecutor and would not come from the grand jury.
A special judge was appointed last month to oversee the grand jury at the request of a local judge.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. asked for the special judge because of continuing allegations of a local cover-up surrounding the case.
In response, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court appointed retired Summit County Judge Patricia Ann O’Connor.
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