According to newly surfaced video of police interviews with students who attended one of the fateful parties last August in Steubenville, Ohio, several teen witnesses had trouble coming to grips with what was unfolding in front of them, even as they came to understand that they should have stopped what would unravel into the most emotionally charged rape case in the country.
Footage of the interviews was leaked to ABC News for a report that aired this weekend. In it, we hear the original statements made to police from some of the other kids who were at one of several parties where a 16-year-old girl was assaulted by Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, two players on the Steubenville High football team.
The police footage show teenagers who watched a horrible event unfold in front of their eyes but did nothing to stop it. Instead, most of them pulled out their cell phones and took pictures or sent text messages about it. "I could tell that she was gradually getting more drunk and worse throughout the night," Farrah Marcino, a 16-year-old friend of the victim identified by ABC's 20/20, says in the video. "Just, like, that she couldn't, like, she didn’t walk."
"She wanted to go with Trent. Like, we just kept trying to tell her: 'You don't want to do this. You don't want to go with them,'" Marcino told police. "I just let her do what she want[ed], which I understand was wrong."
Anthony Craig, an Steubenville 18-year-old who took an immunity deal in exchange for testimony that included his confessing that Mays sent him a naked picture of the victim the next day, told investigators he also took two photos of the victim on his phone that night, but that he deleted them. Police were never able to recover them from his phone. Craig, of course, was one of many students who snapped pictures of the victim — and who was aware of her very drunken condition: "She was a mess," Craig told the police. "She wasn't responding."
Mays and Richmond were both found guilty of rape charges and will serve time in juvenile detention facilities for at least one and two years, respectively. But the Steubenville case is proceeding with a grand jury next month, and more charges could be on the way for other participants in the case; Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has suggested the ongoing investigation will focus on the 16 people who didn't speak with the police, but the new police footage reveals what investigators did and did not have to rely upon as the local police chief "begged" for clues. Richmond is planning to appeal on the grounds his brain wasn't "fully developed" at the time the rape took place.
Meanwhile, parents of one of the first parties of that August 11 night — before the assaults took place — are speaking out, with claims of harassment from the many outside voices to descend upon the case, as well as the ongoing investigation. Look, we've been thrust into the middle of this, you know. If they want to talk to us, we'll talk to them. We're not really concerned that we've done anything. I know that some people think that -- we've gone over it and over it and over it again," Marty Howarth, the father of "Party No. 2" host Eric Minor, told WTOV this week. "You can always look back in hindsight and say should have, could have, but when you look at the situation as it unfolded that evening, I felt that our son acted rather responsibly with his friends based on his knowledge of the situation."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.