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COLUMBUS -- A judge is ready to classify as sex offenders two Ohio high school football players convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl last year.

The hearing by Judge Thomas Lipps Friday in Steubenville is a possible first step for the two teen defendants to be transferred from a state juvenile detention center to a facility that works with sex offenders.

Lipps sentenced Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond in March to time in the juvenile detention system after convicting them of raping the West Virginia girl after an August party celebrating a successful football team scrimmage.

Lipps has said he thinks the boys should be placed in Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in southern Ohio.

The state Youth Services department says extensive evaluations would precede any transfer.

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
AP Legal Affairs Writer