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Rape video case headed to trial

March 10, 2013 at 4:04 PM

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, March 10 (UPI) -- A rape trial of two Ohio high school football players will center on whether the victim was too drunk to consent to sex acts, lawyers said.

The case involving two Steubenville High School football players, made national news when a 12-minute video of several teens talk and joke about raping the girl went viral on the Internet.

Defense attorneys argue the video amounts to teens joking around and that the girl, who lives in nearby Weirton, W. Va., went against her friends' wishes and left a party with the boys prior to the alleged assault -- signs she consented to the sex acts.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer said attendees at the several parties to which the accused brought the girl said she was at various points in the night coherent enough to use her cellphone and nearly passed out drunk. Prosecutors said both suspects penetrated the girl digitally, a sex act that is tantamount to rape if not consensual under Ohio law.

Also at issue, whether the girl, 16, was "substantially impaired" to the point she could not say either yes or no to sex -- and whether the accused should have known she was at that point.

"There's an abundance of evidence here that she was making decisions, cognitive choices," defense attorney Walter Madison said at an October pretrial hearing. "She didn't affirmatively say no."

Prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General's office argued the video evidence speaks for itself -- just because the girl was too drunk to say "no" doesn't mean she consented.

"The state doesn't have to prove that she was flat-lined," Associate Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter said. "Everybody agrees she's puking. She's puking on herself. People have to help her walk. She can't talk. She's stumbling."

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