Steubenville Rape Trial: Accuser's friend testifies she tried to keep her from leaving with defendants
(CBS/AP) STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- A friend of the accuser in the rape trial of two Ohio high school football players testified Saturday that she argued with the 16-year-old girl about her behavior at a party before the alleged attack.
An 11th-grader from across the state line in West Virginia, said she was upset at her friend's drinking and also tried unsuccessfully to get her friend to stay at the party last summer rather than leave with others, including the two defendants.
"When I told her not to leave, I was trying to, like, pull her back into the party. She was trying to shrug me off," the witness said in court. "She kind of hit me."
Football players Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, are charged with digitally penetrating the accuser early Aug. 12, first in a car 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.
The case has riveted the small city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.
The witness, whose lawyer was present during her testimony Saturday, appeared, like all of the trial's teen witnesses, reluctant to be there.
The day after the party, when the witness and another friend picked up the accuser from the house where she'd stayed, the accuser said she had no memory of the night before, the witness testified under questioning by defense attorney Walter Madison.
"'We didn't have sex, I swear,'" the witness said, describing the accuser's comment.
She said she'd seen the girl drink heavily in the past and that she no longer speaks to her.
The case has featured disturbing testimony from teens, both in person and in graphic text messages, and has cast an unwelcome light on what students in the community once considered private conversations. Some teenage witnesses winced at times as they were forced to read adult language from texts.
The witness repeatedly said she couldn't remember statements she made to police last September about the night of the party. Midway through her testimony, special judge Thomas Lipps agreed to let her listen to a 40-minute recording of her statement to refresh her memory.
On Friday, three teenage boys granted immunity for their testimony said the accuser was drunk and didn't seem to know what was happening to her that night. They spoke of the West Virginia girl's behavior the night of a party and described her being digitally penetrated in a car and later on a basement floor.
One testified that he took a video of Mays and the girl in the car, then deleted it later that morning. Two others testified they saw Richmond's encounter with the girl in the basement.
Friday's testimony wrapped up late as a judge, who's hearing the case without a jury, pushed to finish the case, which is continuing through the weekend. The accuser is expected to testify Saturday.
If convicted, Mays and Richmond could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.
The testimony of the accuser's friend Saturday echoed that of another 16-year-old student, who testified Friday that she tried to persuade the girl to leave the party with her.
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