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Grand jury chosen to investigate Ohio rape by football players

Brian Mays (R), hugs his son, Trent, after hearing the verdict in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio, March 17, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Srakoc
Brian Mays (R), hugs his son, Trent, after hearing the verdict in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio, March 17, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Srakoc

By Drew Singer

(Reuters) - Prosecutors selected a grand jury on Monday that will investigate whether more crimes were committed when a 16-year-old girl was raped last year by high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, authorities said.

Quarterback Trent Mays, 17 and wide receiver Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were convicted last month of raping a classmate after a party last August. Prosecutors said the two members of the Steubenville football team assaulted the victim as she lay naked on a basement floor, too drunk to move or speak.

On Monday, nine jurors and five alternatives were selected from 150 Jefferson County residents, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's spokesman Dan Tierney said. The jury will begin to hear testimony on April 30 in proceedings that are closed to the public.

The Steubenville rape case went viral on social media when photos and a video allegedly taken at the alcohol-fueled party were posted. The rape case in the Ohio steel town has drawn national attention and computer hacking group Anonymous organized protests accusing the town of covering up the involvement of more players to protect the football team.

The victim testified that she did not remember the assault, but went to the police after seeing players joking about a rape on social media.

Investigators interviewed 27 people at the party, but 16 others refused to cooperate. Evidence introduced at trial suggested that Steubenville Head Coach Reno Saccoccia, an Ohio Hall of Fame coach, also knew that an incident had occurred.

Three players who said they witnessed the rape were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against Mays and Richmond, who could remain in a juvenile detention center until they turn 21 and will have to register as sex offenders.

Immediately after last month's conviction, DeWine called for a grand jury investigation into whether more people should be charged for either failing to prevent or failing to report the rape.

Citing concerns about a cover-up, the Supreme Court of Ohio appointed a retired judge from a nearby county, Patricia Ann Cosgrove, to oversee the grand jury.

(Reporting By Drew Singer; Editing by Greg McCune and Andre Grenon)

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