Rape trial in Steubenville begins Wednesday - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Rape trial in Steubenville begins Wednesday

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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - On Wednesday, two Steubenville football players will go on trial for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.

It's a case that has brought national attention to the small tight-knit community of Steubenville, and a case that some believe has now divided the town.

21 News traveled to Steubenville to find out about the state of the community that's facing one of its biggest trials.

Steubenville is an old steel town often revered for its Big Red football team, a team that has brought home nine state championships.

But now, Steubenville is a city under a microscope, and capturing international attention after the alleged rape of an unconscious girl at a series of teen parties last August.

There has been a public rally cry for justice after chilling video of what appears to be an unconscious girl is posted on the internet.

Some have accused the Steubenville Police Department of not moving forward on the case quickly enough because the suspects are members of the football team. But police say arrests were made eight days after they received the complaint.

Steubenville resident Don Coen said, "To say that they are perpetrators because they are in sports; what would have happened had they been in the band or the chorus? Would there have been the same outcry? I wish there would have been, but we really don't know."

As we traveled through town it became difficult to convince others to talk about the rape allegations and what they have done to this community. Many said they are hesitant to speak out because harassment often follows. The trial has become an emotional and heated issue in town.

One woman who did not want us to use her name said, "I don't feel that there was special treatment because of the football team. No I don't. They were handled the same way any other juvenile would have been handled."

On Wednesday, Steubenville will be back in the national spotlight. Not for the game they play on the football field, but for two football players facing rape allegations in a courtroom. And while some say the issue has divided the community, all agree, they just want what's right.

Nicholas Woodland said, "I feel sorry for the girl. I feel sorry for everybody's family that's involved, you know. But if they did do it, they need to be punished for it."

Business owner, Tracy McManamon, who is raising five daughters of his own, said, "It broke my heart to hear what happened to this young lady, and just the whole situation in seeing the city being divided between supporting and not supporting."

Residents expect the trial will turn Steubenville into a media circus over the next week. But they're hoping a juvenile judge's decision in the end will be the final word on a case that's been a real trial for the entire community.

"We'll get through it," one resident said. Steubenville is a strong town."

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