Key witness in Ohio rape trial admits sending text to fellow student saying: 'Bro they are going to rape that girl tonight'

  • Allegedly refers to high school footballers Trent Mays, 16, and Ma'lik Richmond, 17, and 16-year-old victim
  • Sent to fellow Steubenville High School student at 1.38am on 12 August
  • Former boyfriend of victim also texted Richmond saying 'Be careful bro'

By Laura Collins In Steubenville, Ohio


A key witness at the Ohio rape trial has admitted sending a text on the day of the alleged incident saying he said he feared the victim would be raped.

The text, sent to a fellow Steubenville High School student at 1.38am on 12 August read: ‘Bro they are going to rape that girl tonight.’

It refers to the 16-year-old victim at the centre of the case and the accused, Trent Mays, 16, and Ma’lik Richmond, 17.

Ma'lik Richmond received text messages from a friend telling him to 'be careful' on the night of the alleged attack

Ma'lik Richmond received text messages from a friend telling him to 'be careful' on the night of the alleged attack

The message was sent from the basement of the house where the alleged assault took place at a time when the sender already knew that the girl had been stripped, photographed and humiliated.

Taking the stand, the former boyfriend of the ‘victim,’ an eye witness to some of the night's events, admitted to taking a picture of her on the floor lying on her stomach, naked and unresponsive, before sending the text and leaving the house soon after.

Barely an hour later, at 2.36am, he texted Richmond: ‘Be careful bro.’

Asked by State prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter, ‘In all of your knowledge of what happened why would you send a text like that?’

He replied: ‘I was worried he might do something stupid and get himself into trouble.’

‘Kind of like what’s happened?’ she asked.

He replied: ‘Correct.’

And though the witness, a lifelong friend of Mays and Little League teammate of Richmond, attempted to downplay those fears, they were underlined with a series of texts he sent that same morning to yet another friend. The string of communications culiminated in one sent at 2.42am which read simply: ‘XX got raped I think.’

Asked why he would send that he replied: ‘I don’t know.’

Trent Mays is charged with rape and dissemination of nude images of a minor

Trent Mays is charged with rape and dissemination of nude images of a minor

In a text sent later that morning the witness described the ‘victim’ as ‘basically dead.’

He went on: ‘They were feeding her alcohol like it was water all night long.’

The case in which two High School football stars stand accused of raping a catastrophically drunk young girl has taken over the city of Steubenville and caught the national attention.

The attention it has drawn is thanks, in large part, to the extent to which it has been played out over social media. A now infamous instagram picture of the ‘victim’ being carried from a party by her wrists and ankles and a video posted on Youtube in which a drunk youth mocks her as ‘dead’ and ‘so raped’ proved crucial to the discovery of a crime of which the ‘victim’ claims to have no memory.

Mays faces two charges: rape and dissemination of nude images of a minor. Richmond faces a rape charge alone.

The prosecution does not hinge on establishing, ‘consent or force’ but on the ‘victim’s’ substantial intoxication.

Once again the court heard witnesses describe a night on which the ‘victim’ – a petite brunette, wearing only denim shorts, a light shirt and flip flops that night – was seen stumbling, slurring her words, vomiting on the street and then later in the basement of a house to which she had been carried.

It was a night of back to back end of summer parties, of underage drinking, slushies mixed with vodka, beer pong and music blaring.

And according to three eye witnesses – each of whom attempted to invoke the 5th amendment and not testify – it resulted in the alleged victim naked, pictured, digitally penetrated and degraded.

Asked to describe the scene he walked into when he arrived at the third and final house of the night, the scene of the incident, the ‘victim’s’ former boyfriend said: ‘She was on the ground. She was laying on her stomach.’

Asked if she had any clothing on he responded: ‘No.’

He continued: ‘Trent was just walking around the basement – by her and away from her at different times.

‘Ma’lik was behind her. On his stomach, by her feet.’

Asked: ‘Was his face in a position to lick between her legs?’ He said ‘Yes.’

The witness claimed he tried to stop the accused but was told ‘not to worry about it.’

YouTube footage

Fury: The notorious picture posted on Instagram, right, and footage which appeared on YouTube, left, of the incident has sparked nationwide anger

Throughout a series of humiliations the ‘victim’ was, he said motionless and unresponsive. At one point Mays attempted to ‘wake her up…nudging her shoulders.’

She did not respond.

The next day, a female witness who arrived at the same house in the early hours of the morning andstayed the night, testified that she had to help the ‘victim’ to put on her bra.

The victim left in some disarray, without her underwear, earings, cell phone or flip flops – her flip flops werer later retrieved from the site of the second party.

In the days since the trial began on Wednesday visiting Judge Lipps has heard hour upon hour of testimony. Much of the court’s time has been occupied with the minutiae of play by play text accounts as he, like the victim, has been tasked with joining the dots of what truly happened on the night of 11-12 August.

It is a task complicated many times over: by the unreliable sexual boasts of 16 year old boys, the various versions recounted by witnesses to friends, authorities and ultimately the court, the consumption of alcohol on the night, peer pressure and shame in the glare of scrutiny, multiplied by the fact that this is a town where everybody knows everybody and technical limitations.

Judge Thomas Lipps is presiding over the court room in Steubenville, Ohio

Judge Thomas Lipps is presiding over the court room in Steubenville, Ohio

Images deleted from iPhones, which many involved have, cannot be retrieved.

Much has been made of the pressure that the media attention and the involvement of groups such as Anonymous has placed on witnesses, the accused and the victim herself.

But according to Detective Jean Phillipe Rigaud, now an officer at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) but with the City of Steubenvile Police Juvenile Unit at the time, the initial investigation was hampered by fear which existed long before the rest of America had directed its attention on this town or this case.

He said: ‘The perception that I had was there was a lot of fear, not related to the issues we have seen more recently. At that point it really was all..I don’t know for certain but it seemd to be fear of co-operation, of talking with the police.

Or, as some in Steubenville and beyond would have it, of speaking out against the much lauded Big Red athletes.

Mays for one certainly appears to have believed his status as a star High School Football player – he was quarterback – and the power of Coach Reno Saccoccio would be enough to smooth away any awkwardness.

In a series of texts to a female friend on 13 August he responded to her question, ‘What did Reno say to you last night?’

‘Nothing really. We got to stay in for a week. Next time nay of use to anything we are suspended from games….But I feel like he took care of it for us.’

But that same day in a Twitter conversation the victim wrote: ‘I woke up naked like I seriously have no memory at all. It’s scary.’

She claimed to have undergone a toxicology test which had confirmed her own assertions that she had been drugged on the night in question.

But MailOnline understands that in spite of her assertions no such tests were ever conducted – a fact expected to be exploited by the defence when they make their case.


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

what is wrong with people? if you see something bad or wrong, then you need to speak up and stop it from happening.

Click to rate     Rating   66

some of those boys had enough conscience to call it what it was, and get out of the situation. but too bad not enough chutzpa to stop those boys. too arrogant to hear the warnings and see the friends trying to avoid the ugliness. pride goes before a fall.

Click to rate     Rating   43

Excuse me for asking the obvious, but where were all the parents at these multiple house parties? They are high schoolers, right?

Click to rate     Rating   52

I really hope the jurors can separate fact from hearsay in this one. We obviously need to guide the young ones better. Poor kids.

Click to rate     Rating   8

Those boys are disgusting, all of them. Not one person stepped forward to help this girl, instead joked, texted and took photos, not sure how to even respond to such blatant disregard for another human being, let along a young girl. Do they not have sisters, mothers, or anyone that they themselves would hate to see something like this happen to??

Click to rate     Rating   69

These 'boys' are vile. Anybody who knew this was happening should be up in the stand being prosecuted as well.

Click to rate     Rating   39

Why do these kids think they have the right to do this to another human being.....seriously, what are parent's teaching them

Click to rate     Rating   49

I went on youtube and watched the video of these guys watching the tape. Their actions are reprehensible. What is this world coming to? I am embarrassed for this generation.

Click to rate     Rating   36

The boys were more worried about protecting themselves than worried about the moral depravity of their actions toward that young woman. More worried about "doing something stupid and getting himself in trouble" rather than seeing the disgusting implications of their character in degrading and humiliating another human being. If these boys are the norm of what young men are now like in our society, I'm sick to death. Just absolutely sick to death. They deserve ALL of the public scorn and humiliation they get. That girl will be traumatized FOR LIFE. You can count on that, and all these punks care about is....."be careful bro."

Click to rate     Rating   42

The parents who raised these monstrous boys with such a sense of entitlement should be in the dock too.

Click to rate     Rating   39

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