Two Ohio high school football players have been found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that roiled a small city and stirred reaction from activists online.
Judge Thomas Lipps ruled Sunday in juvenile court that Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond are guilty of attacking the girl after an alcohol-fueled party last August.
The 17-year-old Mays and 16-year-old Richmond were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in a car and then in a house.
Judge Tom Lipps ordered Richmond held in a juvenile detention facility for at least one year and Mays at least two years. The juvenile system could hold them until age 21. Both were required to register as juvenile sex offenders.
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Mays and Richmond both apologized tearfully after being found guilty.
“I’d like to apologize to her family, [the] community. No pics should have been sent. That’s all sir,” said Mays.
“I’d like to apologize to you people. I had no intentions to do anything, I’m sorry to put you through this — I’m sorry, I didnt… ” said Richmond as he broke down crying.
Afterwards, the mother of the victim’s mother, who is not being named, gave a statement to the media, saying:
“It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in, or what sport you’ve played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher coach or parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of this. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion but a lack of any moral code. Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you. You were your own accuser through social media you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow, and move on.
“I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions and pray hard for his forgiveness,” she concluded.
The case divided the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the football team, a local source of a pride.
After the guilty verdicts, Ohio’s attorney general said he will convene a grand jury to investigate whether other people should be charged in the case.
Activist groups have questioned why people who knew about the rape weren’t charged under state law requiring people to report crimes.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said Sunday “this community desperately needs to have this behind them but this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned.”
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