-In Ohio, city government is a separate entity from a school district. Cities are governed by independently elected city council members. School districts are governed by independently elected school board members. County officeholders such as the Prosecuting Attorney and the Sheriff are elected by county voters. None of the aforementioned entities reports to or has control of any of the others.
-Crimes allegedly committed within the City of Steubenville fall within the jurisdiction of Steubenville Police. Crimes allegedly committed outside of the City but within Jefferson County fall within the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff. Because the information about alleged criminal activities in this case was first reported to city officials, the Steubenville Police Department investigated the case with the assistance of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
-Under Ohio law, the Ohio Attorney General is elected by the voters of the state and does not have the independent jurisdiction or ability to undertake investigations or prosecutions of juvenile crime. In this case, the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney who has such authority delegated her authority to the Attorney General’s office to act as special prosecutor in the matter. The special prosecutors are not from the Steubenville area and graduated high school elsewhere.
-Special prosecutors in Ohio have all the authority of the original prosecutor in the case. That means they can dismiss charges, amend charges, or bring new charges when they believe such actions are necessary. Ultimately, prosecutors – not police -- make charging decisions.
-Nothing in Ohio’s criminal statutes makes it a crime for someone to ridicule a rape victim on a video or otherwise say horrible things about another person. Further, nothing in the law allows someone who says repugnant things on Twitter, Facebook, or other Internet sites to be criminally charged for such statements. Steubenville Police investigators are caring humans who recoil and are repulsed by many of the things th
ey observe during an investigation. Like detectives in every part of America and the world, they are often frustrated when they emotionally want to hold people accountable for certain detestable behavior but realize that there is no statute that allows a criminal charge to be made.
-Rules governing prosecutors and law enforcement significantly limit what they can say to the news media or the public before the case goes to trial. Violating those rules can result in the charges being dismissed against the people charged in a case.
-With respect to other charges that could be brought aside from allegations of sexual assault, prosecutors and police have up to two years (for misdemeanors) and up to six years (for felonies) to bring charges. Often, charges are deferred until after a trial, to evaluate the sworn testimony of witnesses at the trial.