Nightly News | January 06, 2013
>>> in a small ohio town, where the local high school football team is a very big deal , the accusation that two of its players raped a teenaged girl has sparked outrage. questions over the paste ce of justice and influence have ripped that town apart and thrust it into the national spotlight. nbc's ron allen reports from stubenville, ohio .
>> reporter: stubenville, ohio , is a struggling old, industrial town that's seen better times . its greatest glory now comes from the big red , its powerhouse high school football team, that just about everyone here is connected and devoted to.
>> let's be clear. they knew she was drunk.
>> >> reporter: that's why the upcoming rape trial of two star football players, malik richmond and trent mays, named publicly in court, their faces concealed because they are 16, is rocking this community. they have pleaded not guilty.
>> shame own.
>> reporter: with hundreds of protesters supporting the 16-year-old accuser, known only as jane doe , who prosecutors insist was subjected to several sexual assaults against her will. the case exploding on social media , images purporting to show the defendants carrying the alleged victim, unconscious, the night in question. and video showing teenagers are making fun of the girl, released by online activists, including the group, anonymous.
>> you can hide no longer.
>> reporter: most known for hacking into government web sites expose what it sees as wrongdoing. it accuses the town of turning a blind eye to other athletes allegedly involved, to protect the beloved big red nation. police say even though the behavior seen online is offensive, only two young men actually committed a crime.
>> to taking any to a court of law, you have to have evidence for the prosecutor to prosecute that case.
>> reporter: the case is so emotional in this small, closely-knit community that original presiding judge had to be replaced with someone from out of town two special prosecutors also were brought in, with no ties stubenville high school or its football team . defense attorney walter madison says he still wants to move the case away from here because witnesses who support his client are reluctant to come forward.
>> we feel that there was consent.
>> and no force?
>> there was no force.
>> how do you get past the criticism that a lot of people are going to have that essentially, you, your client, are blaming you the victim for what happened?
>> i don't think you -- i don't think you can. and i can't control that.
>> reporter: meanwhile, the alleged victim's family, the activists online and in the streets, insist they are determined to hold the two football stars and anyone else involved accountable. ron allen , nbc news, stubenville, ohio .