Judge finds two Steubenville Ohio teens guilty of raping girl

Protesters wait to hear the verdict in the trial of Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond outside the juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio, March. Credit: Reuters
Protesters wait to hear the verdict in the trial of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond outside the juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio, March.
Credit: Reuters

Two high school football players from Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last summer while she was in a drunken stupor in a case that gained national exposure through social media.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, two members of Steubenville’s “Big Red” football team, were found delinquent in the sexual assault of the girl in the early morning of August 12 when witnesses said she was too drunk to move or speak.

The defendants could be heard sobbing after Judge Tom Lipps announced the decision in the non-jury, juvenile court case. Mays and Richmond had denied the charge and said any sex that occurred was consensual.

Mays and Richmond apologized after Lipps found them delinquent of all charges against them.

“I had no intention to do anything like that,” Richmond told the court before he was sentenced.

Lipps ordered Richmond held in a juvenile detention facility for at least one year and Mays up to two years, with credit for time held so far. The juvenile system could hold them until age 21. Both were required to register as juvenile sex offenders.

The case drew national attention to the town, 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, after a photo and video from the party that appeared to document the assault were posted online.

The computer hacking group Anonymous publicized the picture of two males carrying the girl by her wrists and ankles and organized protests accusing the town known for its “Big Red” football team of covering up the involvement of more players.

Teammates of Mays and Richmond were granted immunity and testified against them at the trial.

The non-jury trial neared its conclusion late on Saturday after four days of testimony capped by the accuser’s tearful acknowledgment on the witness stand that she had little memory from the night of the alleged assaults.

Lipps said the evidence presented was profane and ugly at times and said that alcohol consumption showed a particular danger to “our teenage youth.”

Mays and Richmond, were charged as juveniles with raping a girl by digital penetration while she was passed out from heavy drinking at a party.

In her testimony on Saturday, the accuser recounted drinking vodka mixed with slushy-iced beverages the night of the party, then finding herself sitting on a curb early the next day with her hands between her legs, vomiting into the street.

She testified that she otherwise had no recollection of what happened during the time span in between, when witnesses in the case have said she was too drunk to move or talk.

Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter argued that the things that made the accuser “an imperfect witness (also) made her, in every sense of the word, a perfect victim.”

“She was substantially impaired and they treated her like a toy,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Walter Madison countered by highlighting inconsistencies in the accounts of various witnesses, one of whom he accused of taking part in assaulting the girl, then cooperating with prosecutors under a grant of immunity.

Under its policy of keeping the names of accusers in rape cases confidential, Reuters has not identified the girl.


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