Sixteen people refused to cooperate with the investigation that led to the conviction of two Jefferson County teenagers for raping a girl last August, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Sunday. He wants a grand jury to determine whether additional charges should be filed in the case.
DeWine is right, of course. Jefferson County should convene a grand jury to look into the conduct of those who might have been able to prevent the rape, refused to aid authorities investigating it – or may have attempted to keep justice from being done. That list may include more than 16 people.
After the two Steubenville High School students raped the Weirton girl last August, there were attempts to thwart investigators. That was made clear during the boys’ trial.
The questions a grand jury should investigate are just how far those efforts went, who made them and whether the law was broken.
It certainly appears some of those involved did break the law, either passively by not taking action to stop and/or report the assault or actively by refusing to help investigators or even influence witnesses.
Most of those cited by DeWine are juveniles who attended one or more of the parties at which the rape occurred. But some may be adults who, learning part or all of what happened, were trying to keep juveniles from getting into trouble with the law.
Whatever the reasoning, attempting to cover up the sexual assault of a teenage girl is both illegal and morally wrong. Any adults who engaged in such behavior knew that – and should be singled out for vigorous prosecution if evidence exists to file charges against them.
Some may believe that with the two rapists found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment, justice has been done sufficiently.
But DeWine is right: Almost certainly, others broke the law in connection with the case. Until and unless they are brought to account, justice will not have been done.