The Steubenville rape case, in which members of the Ohio town’s popular high school football team are accused of abducting and a raping a girl from a neighboring town, is set to begin in March after a judge decided against finding a new venue.
The judge ruled on Wednesday that the trial will remain in Steubenville and will be open to the public. Prosecutors and an attorney representing the accuser had sought a closed trial, saying that an open trial would bring unwanted publicity to the accuser and make witnesses reluctant to testify.
Visiting Hamilton County Judge Tom Lipps disagreed, saying that the media in the courtroom would act as a check against inaccurate reporting, Reuters found in a ruling.
“An open hearing is especially valuable where rumors, mischaracterizations and opinions unsupported by facts have reportedly been repeated in social media postings and other published outlets,” Lipps wrote. “An open hearing will diminish the influence of such postings and publications.”
In the Steubenville rape case, prosecutors accused Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays, both 16, of raping a girl at a party attended by many teammates last August. They were accused of bringing her from one party to another to assault her, all while she was intoxicated, the New York Times reported.
The Steubenville rape case gained national attention when the hacktivist group Anonymous released information about the accused and called on authorities to charge other members of the football team. Activists say that authorities are protecting members of the popular high school football team. Anonymous later released a video shot that night of football players drunkenly joking about the girl as she was allegedly being assaulted in a nearby room.