STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Ohio prosecutors prepared to call key eyewitnesses in their case against two high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party last summer.
The testimony of three teenage boys who watched the alleged attacks is a crucial part of the state's evidence, since the girl has said she has no memory of the event. Two of the boys took video and photographic images of the alleged attacks, then later deleted them.
Friday's testimony will follow evidence introduced Thursday in the form of sometimes graphic text messages in which one of the defendants, Trent Mays, gave differing accounts of what happened between him and the girl. At one point Mays appeared to enlist the help of a friend in whose basement one of the alleged attacks happened to cover up the event.
In other messages introduced by the prosecution, the girl begged a friend for information about the night, saying she had no memory of the evening and feared she might have been drugged.
"Swear to God I don't remember doing anything with them," the girl wrote to the friend who authorities say saw the assaults.
"I wasn't being a slut. They were taking advantage of me," she also wrote to the same boy.
Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, are charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party Aug. 11 and then in the basement of a house. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The two maintain their innocence.
Prosecutors insist the girl was too drunk to consent to sex, while defense attorneys have portrayed her as someone who was intoxicated but still in control of her actions. Witnesses have said she was so drunk she threw up and had trouble walking and speaking.