Girl at center of Steubenville rape case hopes to help other victims, attorney says

The case has rocked the community, but the alleged victim has garnered an outpouring of support. (AP)

The case has rocked the community, but the alleged victim has garnered an outpouring of support. (AP)

The 16-year-old girl whose alleged rape has rocked a small Ohio town is getting through the ordeal thanks to an outpouring of support and a strong family that hopes her case can help other victims, her attorney said.

Robert Fitzsimmons, who represents the girl and her family, said the widespread media coverage of the case, while at times tough for his client, has "generated tons of publicity of what happens to rape victims."


"She has her moments...The more publicity, the more she has to revisit what's happened to her," Fitzsimmons said of the teenager, who is not being named.

"The pain of watching a child go through this is horrendous," he said. "But they're a very, very strong average American family that just wants to live and get this over and move on with their life," he told

The girl had been drinking and may have been unconscious when she was carried around to a series of parties on Aug. 11-12 by members of the Steubenville High football team, prosecutors said. She was allegedly sexually assaulted at least twice --  first in the back of a car -- as others watched, while snapping photos and filming it on their cell phones. At least one of those photos, showing the victim being dragged by her wrists and ankles, has appeared online.

"A picture speaks a thousand words. That one certainly does," Fitzsimmons said.

"This underage girl was unconscious and incapable of giving consent," he said.

Two star football players on the Steubenville High football team, ages 17 and 16, are facing formal rape accusations in connection with the alleged sexual assault. They both have denied the charges through their attorneys.

"We deny the allegation of rape," Walter Madison, an attorney for the 16-year-old, told on Tuesday. 

The trial is scheduled for next month in Steubenville, but Madison said he is pushing to have it moved elsewhere and also closed off to the media. Steubenville is located in eastern Ohio, near the borders of both Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The girl is from West Virginia.

Madison claimed witnesses in "seeming support" of the 16-year-old are too "intimidated" to testify on his behalf, should the trial be held in Steubenville.

But Fitzsimmons said moving the trial to another place in this case would be "unusual."

"Normally a change of venue is directed at the jury selection process," he said. "There is no jury because this is in juvenile court."

In Steubenville, a town of about 19,000, Big Red football is sacred sport. The team is a nine-time state champion, including back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006.

Accusations of rape by members of the celebrated team have divided the town, while bloggers and computer hackers have alleged a cover-up meant to protect the celebrated football program.

Local authorities, the targets of online threats in recent days, have denied such charges. "If God from heaven came down right now and said there’s no cover-up, some would still say there was," Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla told "We had a crime scene investigator in here from day one."

Editors’ Note: The Associated Press named the minors charged due to the fact they have been identified in other news coverage and their names were used in open court. will not name the defendants.

Cristina Corbin is a Fox News reporter based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin.