Two Steubenville, Ohio football players who were accused of raping a 16-year-old girl at the start of the school year were found delinquent on all charges against them Sunday by juvenile court judge Tom Lipps. This is equivalent to a guilty verdict in adult court.
Both Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, will serve time at a juvenile detention facility for a minimum of one year, but can be held until they turn 21, reported NBC’s Ron Allen. The boys will also have to register as sex offenders, although it wasn’t clear if they would have to continue to register that way past their release from juvenile detention.
Mays, who was also found guilty of distributing a nude picture of a minor, will serve an additional year after he completes his rape sentence.
The two teens were found guilty of raping the girl, who prosecutors said was too incapacitated to consent to sex, over several hours as they took the unconscious 16-year-old from party to party while they and their friends texted and took photos of the assault.
In emotional testimony this week, the victim said that she had no memory of the incident and burst into tears when she was shown naked photographs of herself taken on the night of the rape.
The verdict comes after a four-day trial that included graphic eyewitness testimony from friends of Mays and Richardson as well as photos and nearly 400,000 text messages.
Mays and Richardson were both players on the Steubenville High School Big Red football team; a long story about the case published by the New York Times ignited a debate over football, rape culture, and the role of social media in sexual assault cases.
Another crucial moment in the investigation came when KnightSec, a group of hackers affiliated with Anonymous, released the personal information of a number of people connected to the rape case.
Prosecutors reviewed 13 phones, more than 900 video clips, and more than 3,000 phone calls in the course of the investigation, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The victim was “continually re-victimized in the social media,” DeWine said at a press conference following the verdict. He also announced that he was convening a grand jury on or about April 15 to address whether any further criminal charges should be filed.
Sexual assault cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute, particularly when alcohol is involved, as was the case in Steubenville. The defense argued that the young woman consented to engage in sexual activity with both boys despite the fact that she was intoxicated, an argument that was undermined by the testimony of three friends of Mays and Richmond.
One admitted to recording a video of an assault that took place while the boys drove between house parties. Another admitted he watched Mays penetrating the girl with his fingers, but that at the time he didn’t try to intervene because he “didn’t know exactly what rape was.”
In text messages, Mays explained that the reason he did not have intercourse with the victim was because she was “barely moving.” He also texted the victim repeatedly in the days following the assault to find out if she was going to report it to authorities.
Attorney General DeWine, a Republican, spoke about the need to raise awareness of what constitutes sexual assault. “This is not just a Steubenville problem,” DeWine said. “This is a nationwide problem…We as a society have an obligation to educate our young people about rape.”