Robert Fitzsimmons, an attorney based in the Wheeling area, spoke to 7News on Friday regarding the case surrounding his teenage client.
The Fitzsimmons Law Firm serves the victim and her family in this case in an advisory and counseling role. This is the first time anyone has spoken on the victim's behalf since the investigation began. Fitzsimmons discussed differences between the adult courts, and the juvenile courts where the criminal proceeding has taken place.
"The treatment is somewhat different, the punishment is different, and the ramifications are different. They're juveniles because of their age, under the age of 18 are treated differently because they are considered, basically they haven't had the maturity, and the life experiences to make a proper decision," Fitzsimmons said. "So they are not held fully accountable, but they are held accountable."
Fitzsimmons also briefly discussed how the case had won an audience through social media. "I guess anybody that could be present and be part of listening and watching the media attention that it has gathered, you have your opinions that just come to mind and all that," he said. He went on to say the Internet had changed things, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Fitzsimmons said he could not discuss the social media aspects of the case further.
Criminal charges were filed against two individuals when the case first broke in August. In November, Hamilton County Judge Thomas Lipps ruled the two Steubenville teenagers would be tried as juveniles. Recently, the criminal case has caught the attention of "hacktivist" group "Anonymous" whose members have planned two peaceful demonstrations titled "Occupy Steubenville." The first protest is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 29 and the second is set for Jan. 5, 2013.
Overall, Fitzsimmons said he had a great deal of faith in the U.S. judicial system. "We have the greatest judicial system on the planet, here in the United States." he said. "We have a lot of rights that protect people and individuals. And right now there are accusations that have been made. It will go through that criminal process, and hopefully a just verdict will be rendered... and justice will be served," said Fitzsimmons.