Ohio city's website to update community on rape case


STEUBENVILLE, OH - MAY 05: The town of Steubenville sits near the Ohio River on May 5, 2009. The small steel town is divided over an alleged rape involving high school football players.



An alleged rape case involving high school football players is dividing the small community of Steubenville, Ohio.

Rumors, allegations of cover ups and a strong social media presence have made it difficult to sort fact from fiction in the case that attracted national attention after it was reported by the New York Times in mid-December. 

The confusion, and increasing scrutiny, led city leaders to launch a website to help the community separate the facts from emotions that are running high. 

"With looking at the facts of the case, the rumors, the social media ... we proceeded in setting up SteubenvilleFacts.org that will present only the facts and provide information on the government of the city, as well as the transparency and the timeline of the evidence," City Manager Cathy Davison told CNN at a news conference Saturday.

Two 16-year-old football players from Steubenville High School were arrested last month on charges that they raped another teenage girl in August. 

According to CNN, special prosecutors from the state attorney general's office allege the teens sexually assaulted the girl while she was unconscious.

Attorneys for the boys have denied the charges in court.

The website is sponsored by the City of Steubenville and the Steubenville Police Department and gives a timeline of the case, summaries of local laws 

The website provides a timeline of the case, summaries of Ohio laws that affect sex charges, online posts and reaction to them, facts about the local police force and a pledge of transparency.

The site includes a section that seems to be in response to an unverified 12-minute video where another teenage boy not involved in the rape ridicules and jokes about the alleged rape victim. The video was allegedly released by hacking group Anonymous who is upset that more teens weren't charged in the crime. 

"Nothing in Ohio’s criminal statutes makes it a crime for someone to ridicule a rape victim on a video or otherwise say horrible things about another person," the site reads. 

As the case proceeds, interest and emotions are flaring in a town that takes great pride in its high school football team, nicknamed 'Big Red'.

According to AP, some throw their support behind the defendants, both star football players, and question the character of the alleged victim. 

Others are critical of the city's handling of the case and suggest that the school is trying to protect its reputation and its star athletes.