STEUBENVILLE -- School officials in the city where a rape case involving high school football players has garnered national attention are reaching out to students and parents.
Superintendent Michael McVey told WKYC he is encouraging students to "come forward, be truthful, if they can do anything to be helpful in this situation."
"We have all avenues if they have anything to say to our teachers, counselors, coaches, whomever, any adult. If they know anything go to them."
McVey's formal statement released to the media calls on students who may have information to break their silence. "By remaining silent, witnesses thwart the work of investigators which may ultimately prevent justice from being served," the statement says.
Two Steubenville High School football players have been charged with raping a 16-year-old girl in August during a series of parties. The students have denied the charges.
McVey tells WKYC the school system has been fully cooperating with authorities from the very beginning but felt the need to go public with its plea following a threat made on social media Tuesday that there could be a shooting at a Steubenville school.
The threat, which turned out to be false, resulted in 90 minute lockdown of all Steubenville public schools.
"Since the threats we felt the need is here now, and with the expanded attention to the problems, the expanded media attention," McVey explained.
The case and accusations of a cover-up by local authorities have exploded in national media since a hacker group posted videos, photos, and accusatory information on a website recently.
The school district is planning a series of public forums for students, teachers, and members of the community.
"Especiallly after the lockdown they have questions," McVey said, "they have fears. Even parents have questions. How do we deal with parents? We are going to have professionals there to answer their questions.
Security measures have been increased in the schools, and education programs are being expanded to raise further awareness of sexual harassment, bullying, date rape, and other issues.
WKYC-TV/The Associated Press