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Sept. 14 Hearing Set in High School Sex Assault Case

September 1, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

STEUBENVILLE - A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 14 in Jefferson County Juvenile Court for two juveniles charged with a sexual assault.

Fred Abdalla Jr., juvenile court chief probation officer, said he held a conference call Thursday with Hamilton County retired Juvenile Judge Thomas Raymond Lipps, defense lawyers and lawyers with the Ohio Attorney General's office concerning the date for the probable cause hearing.

A 16-year-old Bloomingdale teen has been charged with one count of rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. A 16-year-old Steubenville teen was charged with one count of rape and one count of kidnapping.

Both are being held in the county juvenile detention center.

Walter Madison, who has offices in Akron and Youngstown, and Brian K. Duncan of Columbus are serving as legal counsel for the teens. Duncan was born in Mingo Junction and is a graduate of Indian Creek High School.

City police began an investigation after parents came to the police station on Aug. 14 to report a sexual assault involving their daughter.

Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr and Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin both stepped aside from presiding over or prosecuting the case.

Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby, both with the Ohio Attorney General's Crimes Against Children unit, were assigned the case after Hanlin contacted the attorney general's office. Hanlin said their representation will not cost the county money.

The Ohio Supreme Court assigned Lipps to preside over the case.

The county prosecutor's office has filed a motion to have both juveniles tried as adults.

Abdalla said if probable cause is determined by Lipps, the court will begin an investigation to determine if the juveniles are amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile system. That study could take a couple of months, he said. Another hearing will be held for the judge to announce his decision on whether the juveniles stay in the juvenile system or are released to the county grand jury to begin the process of being tried as adults.

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