Two juveniles were arrested early Wednesday in connection to the alleged sexual assault of an underage girl in Jefferson County.
Both suspects are student-athletes at Steubenville High School, officials said.
A police report was filed in Steubenville at 1:40 a.m. Aug. 14. The report states that people came to the police station "in regards to a sexual assault involving their juvenile daughter." Information was taken for a report and the subjects were referred to the Juvenile Division, the report states.
During a juvenile detention hearing on Wednesday, pending charges of first-degree rape and second-degree kidnapping were brought up but had not been filed. In addition, officials said the suspects could face additional charges and more arrests may be forthcoming.
Officials said charges are expected to be filed Wednesday and there is a possibility that the two teens could face rape and kidnapping charges as adults, but it would be a while before that is decided.
Arrest warrants for the two teens were prepared around midnight Wednesday and the suspects were arrested at their homes without incident around 1 or 2 a.m. One suspect was arrested by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the other was arrested by Steubenville police. Both suspects were being held at a juvenile detention center as of noon Wednesday.
During the juvenile detention hearing, one of the teens had legal representation and the second suspect's parent said they would obtain an attorney as well.
In response to the students' arrests, Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Mike McVey released a statement, saying in part: "We learned this morning that two Steubenville High School athletes were arrested. … The district intends to fully cooperate with any criminal investigation that may ensue from this situation. ... Any student who is arrested is immediately suspended from all extracurricular activities including sports."
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Jane Hanlin said a search warrant was obtained to take the cellphones of people who were allegedly involved in the case or who have knowledge of the incident that is under investigation. She said officials are looking into allegations that there is some type of video footage on the cellphones. Hanlin said that search warrant was sealed by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. since juveniles were named in the warrant.
The story is evoking much reaction from the public. The prosecutor's office, the sheriff's office and Steubenville police said they've all received an influx of calls from concerned citizens.
Hanlin said any claims of a cover-up are untrue and everyone involved in the investigation has worked around the clock in securing warrants. The arrests were made a week after the alleged victim's parents filed the police report.
"It's impossible for it to go faster. I know in a perfect world evidence would come together within 20 minutes of the crime and you would be able to go forward. In the real world, it doesn't happen like that. You have to meet with people, you collect evidence, analyze evidence. There are a lot of rumors out there about what already exists, what is already in people's possession, and a good deal of that is rumors," Hanlin said.
She said officials are handling the investigation like any other and making sure it is handled properly. Steubenville City Law Director Gary Repella said on Tuesday that the Steubenville Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office are investigating the allegations.
Hanlin said on Tuesday she would recuse herself from the case because she knows too many of the individuals on a personal level as students and graduates of Steubenville High School are allegedly involved in the case. In addition, she said the names of the individuals believed to be involved in the alleged incident keep coming up, and she knows both of them as well as their parents.
Hanlin said she will ask the State Attorney General's Office to come in and prosecute the case.
NEWS9 will report any new official information as it is released. This story is obviously a sensitive one that provokes strong emotions among our viewers. NEWS9 is committed to covering all stories based upon verifiable fact and reliable on-the-record sources.
We cannot and will not report based upon conjecture or speculation whether it be spoken, written or delivered through social media. Stories concerning alleged criminal activity deserve serious treatment and we will treat it as such.
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