Girl tells of accuser's behavior in Ohio rape case
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A friend of the accuser in the rape trial of two Ohio high school football players testified Saturday that she argued with the 16-year-old girl about her behavior at a party before the alleged attack.
Gianna Anile, an 11th-grader from across the state line in West Virginia, said she was upset at her friend's drinking and also tried unsuccessfully to get her friend to stay at the party last summer rather than leave with others, including the two defendants.
"When I told her not to leave, I was trying to, like, pull her back into the party. She was trying to shrug me off," Anile said in court. "She kind of hit me."
Football players Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, are charged with digitally penetrating the accuser early Aug. 12, first in a car and then in the basement of a house. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The two maintain their innocence.
The case has riveted the small city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.
Anile, whose lawyer was present during her testimony Saturday, appeared, like all of the trial's teen witnesses, reluctant to be there.
The day after the party, when Anile and another friend picked up the accuser from the house where she'd stayed, the accuser said she had no memory of the night before, Anile testified under questioning by defense attorney Walter Madison.
"'We didn't have sex, I swear,'" Anile said, describing the accuser's comment.
Anile said she'd seen the girl drink heavily in the past and that she no longer speaks to her.
The case has featured disturbing testimony from teens, both in person and in graphic text messages, and has cast an unwelcome light on what students in the community once considered private conversations. Some teenage witnesses winced at times as they were forced to read adult language from texts.
Anile repeatedly said she couldn't remember statements she made to police last September about the night of the party. Midway through her testimony, special judge Thomas Lipps agreed to let her listen to a 40-minute recording of her statement to refresh her memory.
On Friday, three teenage boys granted immunity for their testimony said the accuser was drunk and didn't seem to know what was happening to her that night.
Mark Cole, Evan Westlake and Anthony Craig spoke Friday of the West Virginia girl's behavior the night of a party and described her being digitally penetrated in a car and later on a basement floor.
Cole testified that he took a video of Mays and the girl in the car, then deleted it later that morning. Westlake testified he saw Richmond's encounter with the girl in the basement, as did Craig.
Testimony in the rape trial wrapped up late Friday as a judge, who's hearing the case without a jury, pushed to finish the case, which is continuing through the weekend. The accuser was expected to testify Saturday.
If convicted, Mays and Richmond could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.
During Cole's testimony, a prosecutor asked him why he deleted the video.
"It was one of those moments when you realize you did something stupid and wrong that night, so I deleted it," Cole replied.
Cole testified he saw Mays unsuccessfully try to have the girl perform oral sex on him later in the basement of Cole's house. Cole also testified that the girl was intoxicated and slurring her words.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Walter Madison suggested that the girl was behaving no differently than anyone else the night of the party.
Westlake, the second witness granted immunity, confirmed that he filmed a 12-minute video, later passed around widely online, in which another student, Michael Nodianos, joked about the attack. Women's rights groups have demanded that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine charge Nodianos with failure to report a crime. DeWine has so far refused to say what he'll do.
Westlake said he deeply regrets his actions that night.
Craig testified that he saw Richmond's hand in the "crotch region" of the girl, a less descriptive version than he gave last fall in another hearing.
Anile's testimony Saturday echoed that of another 16-year-old student, who testified Friday that she tried to persuade the girl to leave the party with her.
Farah Marcino said the girl brushed off her attempts. "She actually hit one of my friends and said she did not want to go," Marcino said.
The Associated Press normally doesn't identify minors charged in juvenile court, but Mays and Richmond have been widely identified in news coverage, and their names have been used in open court.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.