STEUBENVILLE -- A judge has found two Steubenville high school football players delinquent in the rape of a 16-year-old girl at a party last summer. The finding is the equivalent of a guilty verdict in adult court.
Judge Thomas Lipps delivered his verdict just after 10 a.m. He found Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, delinquent or guilty on all three charges. Crying could be heard in the courtroom following the verdict.
Both Mays and Richmond--who had largely remained emotionless during the trial that included sexually explicit testimony--also wept following the verdict. Ma'Lik's father then stepped forward to the defendants' table to comfort both of the teens.
A short time later, Ma'Lik Richmond walked toward the section of the courtroom where the victim was sitting and made a tearful apology. Mays also made an apology.
Following court statements, Judge Lipps sentenced Richmond and Mays to 1-year minimum in a juvenile facility and said both could be held until they turn 21. Judge Lipps also sentenced Mays to an additional year in jail on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material to be served after his rape sentence is completed.
The victim's mother recorded a short statement directed at Mays and Richmond that was played to the media. In the statement she chastises them both for a lack of compassion or moral code. "This does not define who my daughter is. She will peservere, grow and move on."
During the trial prosecutors argued the drunken girl was taken advantage of. Defense attorneys argued the girl had a history of heavy drinking and lying.
The verdict was read following four days of testimony in Jefferson County juvenile court in eastern Ohio. Judge Lipps said he had reviewed all the text messages entered as evidence prior to making his decision. "The things our children were saying and doing were profane and ugly," he said.
The two teens were accused of digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl in a car and in a basement.
Social media attention and allegations of selective prosecution have given the case an international profile.
Following the verdict, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced he will ask a grand jury to be convened in April to determine if any other teens should be charged. To date 16 people who were at one or both of the locations where the girl was assaulted have refused to answer questions.
"We as a society need to do more to educate our young people about rape. It is a crime of violence," said DeWine.