Ohio teens guilty of rape, face year-plus in jail
March 17, 2013
A judge announced on Sunday that the defendants in the Steubenville rape trial were found guilty.
Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond had been accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance while she was severely intoxicated. Video and photo footage from the night of the incident spread across the internet soon after, drawing national attention to the case.
Mays and Richmond, both football players at Steubenville High School, received delinquent verdicts on all three charges. Delinquent is the guilty equivalent for juveniles. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, and Mays was also found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The boys will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21.
The defendants and their family members openly wept at the verdict.
The victim, who has not been identified, testified in court on Saturday that she did not remember the attack, but that she remembered waking up naked in a house she did not recognize. Other members of the small Ohio community also testified against the defendants.Two members of the high school football team that is the pride of Steubenville were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.
Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond face a possible sentence of detention in juvenile jail until they turn 21, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.
Both broke down in tears after the verdict was read.
Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. Mays was also found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry. Their arms linked, protesters stood outside the courthouse Sunday morning awaiting the verdict, some wearing masks.
The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn’t have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing.
The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified.
"It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."
The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn’t explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.
"They treated her like a toy," said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.
Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.
The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.
"They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me," she testified. "I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video."
They should serve more time. Also, the victim blaming in this case is shameful. That’s rape culture.