Two teenage girls accused of threatening the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case were released on house arrest Wednesday and ordered not to use social media.
The girls were arrested in the aftermath of the guilty verdicts of two high school football player, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, who a judge found raped the West Virginia girl during a night of heavy drinking.
The case drew national notoriety to the small Ohio town where the successful “Big Red” high school football team is a source of community pride.
Social media postings of images, video and text messages played a unique role in the prosecution’s case. A 12-minute video shocked many for the callous and profane way the boys discussed raping the victim.
In Wednesday's juvenile court hearing, defense attorneys for the two accused girls entered a denial to the charges, equivalent to a not guilty plea, NBC station WTOV reported.
The judge and prosecution also discussed releasing information from the girls’ twitter accounts and cell phones.
In addition releasing the girls to their homes, the judge ordered them not to contact the victim, a West Virginia resident. The accused girls had been held at a juvenile detention center.
The original rape trial verdict was announced on Sunday, March 18, and by the next day State Attorney Mike DeWine had charged a 16-year-old girl with aggravated menacing for threatening the victim’s live on Twitter, and a charged a 15-year-old girl with menacing and threatening bodily harm to the victim on Facebook.
According to NBC station WPXI, which cited an investigator, one of the threats on Twitter said, “You ripped my family apart. You made my cousin cry. So when I see you it’s going to be homicide.”
A wide-ranging investigation is also under way that could lead to more charges in the case, DeWine said after the verdict.