Football-crazed town rocked by claims players raped teenager
IT sounds like a story from the hit US TV show 'Friday Night Lights', but there is nothing make believe about the fear stalking the football-crazed town of Steubenville, in Ohio.
College footballers walk with a swagger but ever since two players from the team were accused of rape, the cheerleaders have lost some of their bombast. Such is the mood change that unarmed guards have been posted at their schools.
Trenton Mays (16) and Ma'lik Richmond (16) will face charges in juvenile court in February. Their lawyers have denied the charges.
The case has gripped the small, former steel town of some 18,000 people, with social media key to the spread of information. Lawyers also say that potential witnesses have been put under pressure not to testify.
The 16-year-old girl is said to have been attacked on August 11, during a night of parties attended by members of the Steubenville High football team – which has an ardent following in the local area. The case has sparked anger and outrage in the town and online. The two suspects, both star players on the team, were arrested on August 22 and then charged with rape and kidnapping, although the kidnapping charges were later dropped.
They are under house arrest and their families say the boys are innocent. Authorities found two pictures of the alleged victim, naked, but they do not show anyone involved in a sexual act with the girl.
The victim's mother said in interviews in December that her family had also received threats and extra police were patrolling in their neighbourhood.