STEUBENVILLE, OH—After four days of testimony against Steubenville High football players Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the court announced that both defendants were found guilty on all counts of sexual assault.
Videos and pictures posted online showed Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, carrying the unconscious 16-year-old victim by her arms and legs at a party and later penetrating her with their fingers. The tweets and text messages published through various social media outlets confirmed Mays and Richmond’s actions, and suggested the involvement of others.
Alleged friends of the co-defendants agreed to testify in court when they were offered immunity from prosecution. They explained that they witnessed Mays and Richmond effectuate the sexual misconduct for which they were being charged.
One of the boys, a 17-year-old Steubenville football player and wrestler, said he recorded Mays inserting his fingers in the victim’s vagina while driving from one party to another. He claims he deleted the video on his phone the following morning, realizing then that it was wrong.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, along with various advocacy groups, demands additional charges for more people who are believed to be legally responsible.
Ohio State University law professor Ric Simmons, former assistant district attorney in New York, commented on an Ohio law that states it’s a crime to neglect to report a felony.
“That’s a law that’s rarely used in any state,” Simmons said. “But certainly rarely used in Ohio just because it’s very hard to prove that someone actually knew a felony was occurring. If [people at the party] heard secondhand or people were telling jokes and so on about this, I think it would be really hard to meet the standard required for the state of mind to say that someone actually knew that a crime occurred.”
On Sunday, March 17, Judge Thomas Lipps stated that both defendants “are adjudicated delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt on all three counts as charged.”
Lipps, a 37-year veteran of Ohio juvenile court, came out of retirement and took the bench when the previous judge was discovered to be connected to the Steubenville High football team. Using the words “profane” and “ugly” in describing the events that took place the night of August 11, 2012, Lipps offered some advice after the ruling.
“As bad as things have been for all of the children involved in this case, they can all change their lives for the better,” he said.
Both defendants were reduced to tears after the verdict, and each issued an apology to the victim’s family who was present in the courtroom.
“I would truly like to apologize to [victim], her family, and the community,” Mays said. “No pictures should have been sent around, let alone taken.”
It was Richmond who stood up and walked across the courtroom to address the victim’s family. “I’m sorry to put you guys through this,” he said, but his apology was interrupted when he broke down before the court. “I know I ruined her life, for life.”
In her only words to the defendants, the victim’s mother said, “Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us.” She went on saying that not only did Mays and Richmond display a lack of this compassion, but a “lack of any moral code” the night they assaulted her daughter. “I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for you actions and pray hard for his forgiveness.”
Richmond was sentenced to at least one year in a juvenile rehabilitation facility. Mays was sentenced to at least two years, as he was found guilty on the charge of disseminating nude photos of a minor. Both Mays and Richmond could be detained until they turn 21. The Department of Youth Services will determine the length of detention depending on behavior and rehabilitation.
According to DeWine, the case is not over and more charges could be forthcoming.
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