STEUBENVILLE - Another rally to protest the handling of the criminal case surrounding the alleged rape of a teenage girl is set for noon Saturday in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.
The third rally since the end of December will be similar to previous gatherings, in which participants objected to how local authorities have handled the investigation of the Aug. 11-12 incident. Rally organizers believe more individuals should be prosecuted in connection with the case.
Two Steubenville High School student-athletes have been charged with rape. One of them also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges.
The trial of the 16-year-old boys is set for March 13 before visiting Judge Thomas Lipps. Earlier this week, Lipps denied a motion for a change of venue and ruled the trial will be held in open court.
The previous protests attracted national and international attention after media outlets took an interest in the case. However, national attention has waned since the last rally.
Despite inclement weather, the rally at the courthouse Dec. 29 drew between 300 and 400 people. A second rally on Jan. 5 drew an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people. The rally planned for Saturday - dubbed "OpRollRedRoll" by organizers - already had more than 1,600 people committed to attend, according to an online invitation.
"It has been encouraged by some that we wear (Steubenville High School) clothing, or in lieu of that, black and red," the page states. "I think that this is a wonderful idea. We want to show the wonderful people of this community that we are not attacking their city. We're fighting for the rights of Jane Doe, as well as fighting a corrupt system that appears to have been in place for decades."
The case went national after a video of a former Steubenville High School student-athlete went viral. The 12-minute video shows the man and others crudely joking about what some contend is the alleged rape. Law enforcement officials since have said the video has no bearing on the case. Officials also have said no charges were expected to be filed against the individual in the video.
A Stand Up For Steubenville rally was held in support of the community Jan. 12 at Jim Wood Park.
On Thursday, the group V-Day Akron announced that its members plan to hold a gathering in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 14 to show support for and demand justice for the 16-year-old alleged victim in the case. The event will be held in conjunction with One Billion Rising, a day of action by the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.