By Drew Singer
(Reuters) - The trial of two Ohio high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl should be closed to the public to protect the accuser in a case that has received national attention, the state's attorney general said on Thursday.
The case caused a national sensation earlier this month when the hacker activist group Anonymous publicized a picture of two young men carrying the girl by her wrists and ankles and released a video showing other young men joking about the alleged assault.
A defense attorney has also requested that the trial be closed. Both the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the defense have said that the accuser has also made the request.
A hearing on the motions before visiting Hamilton County Judge Tom Lipps is set for Friday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. In Ohio, it is easier to close juvenile hearings than adult trials.
Ma'Lik Richmond and Trent Mays, both 16, are to face trial as juveniles next month in Steubenville, a city of 19,000 near the Pennsylvania border. Prosecutors say the two members of the high school football team there had raped a classmate at a party attended by many teammates last August.
Community leaders have criticized authorities, voicing suspicion they have avoided charging more players who could have been involved in order to protect the school's beloved football program.
Reuters is not identifying the accuser because she is a purported victim of sexual assault.
In his filing last week, Richmond's lawyer, Walter Madison, said closing the trial to the public would be the only way to protect witnesses from Anonymous, which has threatened to expose private information of anyone who helps protect his client from prosecution. Continued...