STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - Just days before two Steubenville High School football players go on trial for the rape of a 16-year-old girl, the Steubenville community came together in prayer.
The Steubenville community has been rattled ever since news first spread that two high school students are accused of raping the girl, who was nearly passed out drunk, at a party last August.
Community members attending a prayer service Monday night asked God for his mercy.
"His mercy to be on the judge, the alleged victim, the alleged perpetrators of the crime and all those who may have somewhat contributed to it," says resident Don Coen. "That the truth be told and that healing and reconciliation occur."
Organizers of the prayer service say that while they are certainly praying for the teens involved, the service is really a prayer for the entire community.
"I think the community would like for this trail to be over, I think everybody would like justice to be served, but this isn't what we're coming together just for that purpose tonight," says organizer Tracy McManamon. "It's really to pray for our community, the citizens, the young people, everybody."
One city leader tells 21 News she feels as if the Steubenville community has been under attack because of the negative spotlight thrusting the city into national headlines with accusations of conducting a lax investigation in order to protect the football program.
"I think it was all of a sudden a lot of attention to something we knew had already happened," says councilwoman Angela Suggs. "We were already dealing with it, investigating. It was already going on, and then all of a sudden it just seemed all the focus was on that and I think we felt we needed to defend our citizens and our town."
An attorney for one of the accused players has asked that the case against his client be dismissed because a judge in West Virginia has rejected requests for three juveniles from that state be called to testify. The lawyer said locking those witnesses denies the defendant his right to a fair trial.
The trial is set to begin Wednesday.