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Steubenville Rape Update: Bystanders, coaches and parents will now be focus of Ohio AG Mike DeWine

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine talks to reporters after two Steubenville High School football players were convicted of rape Sunday, March 17, 2013 AP Photo/Steubenville Herald-Star, Pool, Michael D. McElwain

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, right, answers questions about the successful prosecution of two juveniles in a rape case during a news conference Sunday, March 17, 2013, at the Jefferson County Justice Center in Steubenville, Ohio.
AP Photo/Steubenville Herald-Star, Pool, Michael D. McElwain

(CBS) -- When Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Sunday that he was calling for a grand jury to investigate more charges surrounding the rape of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl last August, he seemed to be speaking directly to the teens at the party where the assault occurred, many of whom took pictures, but did nothing to intervene.

PICTURES: Steubenville Rape Trial

"Rape is not a recreational activity," said DeWine.

DeWine spoke with the media just after Judge Thomas Lipps announced that he had found Trent Mays, 17, guilty of rape and of using a minor in nudity oriented material, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, guilty of rape.

"Every rape is a tragedy," said DeWine. "But a rape is more difficult when the victim is continually re-victimized in the social media."

From the very beginning, cell phone technology and social media - including messages passed via text - played a major role in this case. In fact, the events of the evening may well have never come to the attention of law enforcement - or even the victim herself, who was intoxicated and recalls nothing of the night - had attendees not taken pictures of her in and made at least one video discussing the rape. The teens then posted them online and passed them amongst each other.

In investigating the rape, DeWine said investigators had analyzed 13 cell phones, containing 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, and 940 video clips.

However, when investigators tried to talk to many of the people involved, DeWine says they hit a brick wall.

"As part of our investigation, we identified 43 individuals who attended at least one party - 16 refused to be interviewed," said DeWine.

Because of this, DeWine concluded that "this investigation cannot be completed without the convening of a grand jury." A grand jury can compel witnesses to testify. Possible charges that might result, said DeWine, are failure to report a felony, and tampering with evidence.

According to Ohio criminal code, "no person, knowing that a felony has been or is being committed, shall knowingly fail to report such information to law enforcement authorities." Rape is a felony.

Not every state has a statute compelling witnesses to report a felony, unless it is committed against a child. In 2009, an intoxicated 16-year-old girl was beaten, urinated on and gang-raped outside her high school in Richmond, Calif., while multiple people gathered around to watch.

"It was a carnival atmosphere," said Richmond Police Captain Mark Gagan, who worked the case.

The incident spurred Calif. State Sen. Leland Yee (D) to draft a bill making it a misdemeanor to fail to report a violent crime - including rape - committed against someone under the age of 18. The bill died in appropriations in 2010.

Currently, California makes it a misdemeanor to fail to report such a crime against anyone under 14.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, most states have mandatory reporting laws for child abuse and neglect. But laws vary on reporting crimes committed against those over 14, especially if the person with knowledge of the crime is not a "mandatory reporter," like a teacher or medical professional.

On Monday, Steubenville city manager Cathy Davison told the Associated Press that the city would support a grand jury investigation into other teens and adults - including coaches and parents - who may have known about the rape.

Katie Hanna, executive director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, told Crimesider that the fact that the case is expanding to investigate the possible culpability of bystanders and those with knowledge of the crime "sends the message that we take these crimes seriously."

"We know most boys don't condone sexual violence," explains Hanna. "But when you have some that do, it's important for coaches and other men and boys to stand up and challenge that."

According to text messages read aloud during the trial, Mays indicated that his football coach, Reno Saccoccia, was aware of the rape and "took care of it." DeWine told the AP that a coach is among those legally required to report suspected child abuse.

Complete coverage of the Steubenville Rape Case on Crimesider

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for CBSNews.com

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