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Psychologist: Alleged rape victim had been drinking

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 3:18 p.m.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – The teenaged victim was so intoxicated that she did not know what was happening to her and could not resist, making her “the perfect victim,” said state prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter during closing arguments on Saturday night of a juvenile-rape case involving two local football stars.

“They knew she was substantially impaired— they knew it,” Hemmeter said. “This case is about a 16-year-old girl who was taken advantage of.”

Defense attorneys for Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, disagreed, saying the victim had a reputation for lying and never lost consciousness or the ability to make decisions.

Both sides rested their cases after the fourth day of a rape trial that drew international attention. Visiting Judge Thomas Lipps, a retired Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge, will issue a verdict at 10 a.m. Sunday.

The victim, who lives across the Ohio River in Weirton, W. Va., testified for more than two hours.

Hemmeter showed the girl a series of photos that classmates texted each other after a series of drunken parties in August. The victim said she had heard the rumors of what happened that night and seen the humiliating photos.

But she hadn't seen them all.

When Hemmeter got to the last one ­ — an image of the victim passed out and naked — the girl covered her face and sobbed.

“I've never seen it,” the victim said.

“How does that make you feel?” Hemmeter asked.

“Not good,” the victim said, her head lowered and her voice cracking.

The victim had a crush on Mays, the quarterback of Steubenville High's wildly popular “Big Red” football team. She looked forward to seeing him at a party on Aug. 11, witnesses testified.

“I said, ‘There's your boy,' and I was like, ‘Have you kissed him yet?'” said Kelsi Weaver, a former friend of the victim. “She said, ‘No, not yet.'”

The victim said she trusted Mays and was shocked to learn what people said he and Richmond did to her later that night. She said she did not remember being assaulted by the defendants, once in a car as a buddy took video, and later on the floor of a basement while other teens watched and took photos.

Her memory returned in the morning, when she awoke on a couch in that basement, naked and confused. The victim testified she could not find her underwear, cell phone, earrings or shoes.

“It was really scary,” she said. “I was embarrassed and scared and I honestly did not know what to think because I couldn't remember anything.”

The Tribune-Review does not identify sexual assault victims.

As rumors around town intensified, Mays sent her a series of text messages, the victim testified.

In one text, he admitted to taking a photo of the girl while she was naked, with his semen on her body. In another, he urged the victim not to got police involved.

“I'm truly sorry. I'm just trying not to go to court or jail, this is just stupid,” he wrote. “Please don't let them file charges, like I can't deal with that.”

He lamented to the victim that he might get kicked off the football team. She responded: “The more you bring up football, the more pissed I get because that shows that's all you care about.”

The victim took the stand in the afternoon of another marathon court session.

In the morning, a professor of clinical psychology who specializes in alcohol's effects on cognitive behavior testified for the defense that the victim likely had a blood alcohol level between .18 and .25. Kim Fromme, a professor of clinical psychology and director of the Studies on Alcohol, Health, and Risky Activities at the University of Texas at Austin, said such levels mean the victim likely blacked out during the night of drinking, but probably did not pass out.

But Dr. Laureen Marinetti, the chief forensic toxicologist for Montgomery County, Ohio, said it would be impossible to gauge the victim's blood alcohol level because it's not clear how the victim measured the shots of alcohol she drank, or whether she forgot having drinks as she became more impaired.

The case sparked outrage in the fall after an online “hacktivist” group called Anonymous published incendiary evidence online, including a photo of the suspects carrying the girl by her ankles and wrists. Protesters wearing masks, the symbol of Anonymous, gathered outside the justice center during the first two days of testimony and vowed to return until Lipps returns a verdict.

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