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Steubenville, Ohio, rape case on new website

| Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 7:56 p.m.
Reuters
Protesters gathered in front of the of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio, Jan. 5, 2013. A county sheriff under fire for how he has handled a high school rape investigation faced down a raucous crowd of protesters on Saturday, telling critics no further suspects would be charged in a case that has rattled Ohio football country. REUTERS

Authorities investigating rape accusations against two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, started a website on Saturday, an extraordinary step designed to combat the misperception “that the football team runs the city,” the city manager said.

A timeline of the case, beginning with the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a party in August 2012, is posted on the site. Summaries of Ohio law relating to the case and facts about the local police force, including statistics on how many graduated from Steubenville schools, are included.

Interest in the case ballooned last week when hacking collective Anonymous leaked a video of Steubenville high school athletes mocking the 16-year-old victim and making crude references to the alleged rape.

“It's disgusting. And I've had people calling, numerous people call here, upset,” Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla told ABC News. “It really is disgusting to watch that video.”

Anonymous has called for more arrests, but Steubenville police have said their hands are tied.

Occupy Steubenville, a grass-roots group, estimated that 1,300 people attended a rally on Saturday outside the Jefferson County Courthouse, where rape victims and their loved ones gathered to share their stories.

The father of a teenage rape victim was met with applause when he shared his outrage.

“I've tried to show my girl that not all men are like this, but only a despicable few,” ABC quoted him as saying.

One aim of the Steubenville website, City Manager Cathy Davison said, is to combat the perception that the high school — home of the “Big Red” sports program — controls politics in a small city where special prosecutors and a visiting judge are handling the case because local authorities knew people involved with the football team.

“When people are saying that our police department did not follow procedure, that the football team runs the city, that is not the case,” Davison said. “They went by the book. Everything was handled in an above-board fashion to make sure that the case can benefit from the fullest extent of the law.”

Authorities investigated the case and charged two 16-year-old high school athletes in August.

The teenagers are scheduled to go on trial next month.

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