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Ohio teens guilty of rape, face year-plus in jail

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

AP Legal Affairs Writer

LAST UPDATED: 11:37 p.m. HST, Mar 17, 2013

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio » Two members of Steubenville's celebrated high school football team were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl, and Ohio's attorney general warned the case isn't over, saying he is investigating whether coaches, parents and other students broke the law too, in some instances simply by failing to speak up.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile prison in a case that has rocked this Rust Belt city of 18,000 since last summer and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the Steubenville High team. Mays was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the underage girl naked.

They can be held until they turn 21.

The two broke down in tears after a Juvenile Court judge delivered his verdict. They later apologized to the victim and the community, Richmond struggling to speak through his sobs.

"My life is over," he said as he collapsed in the arms of his lawyer.

The crime, which took place after a party, shocked many in Steubenville because of the seeming callousness with which other students took out their cellphones to record the attack and gossiped about it online. In fact, the case came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.

"Many of the things we learned during this trial that our children were saying and doing were profane, were ugly," Judge Thomas Lipps said.

Immediately after the verdict, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he will convene a grand jury next month to investigate whether anyone else should be charged. Noting that 16 people refused to talk, many of them underage, DeWine said possible offenses to be investigated include failure to report a crime.

"This community desperately needs to have this behind them, but this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned," he said.

Among the people who have been interviewed were the owners of one of the houses where parties were held that night, the high school principal, and the football team's 27 coaches, many of them volunteers.

Text messages introduced at trial suggested the head coach was aware of the rape allegation early on. DeWine said coaches are among officials required by state law to report child abuse. The coach and the school district have repeatedly declined to comment.

Mays and Richmond were charged with penetrating the West Virginia girl with their fingers, first in the back seat of a moving car after a mostly underage drinking party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house.

"They treated her like a toy," prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said.

Prosecutors argued that the victim was so intoxicated she couldn't consent to sex that night, while the defense contended the girl realized what she was doing and was known to lie.

The girl testified she could not recall what happened but woke up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party.

"It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."

She said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself naked, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack.

Three other boys, two of them on the football team, saw something happening that night and didn't try to stop it but instead recorded it with their cellphones. Granted immunity to testify, they confirmed the girl was assaulted and said she was so drunk she didn't seem to know what was happening.

Evidence at the trial also included sexually explicit text messages sent by numerous students after the party. Lawyers noted how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for young people. A computer forensic expert documented hundreds of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.

In sentencing the boys, Lipps urged parents and others "to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends."

After the arrests, the case was furiously debated on blogs and social media, with some people warning of conspiracies and conflicts of interest. After the verdict, Hemmeter, the prosecutor, criticized efforts by the hacker collective Anonymous to publicize the case, saying the attention had a chilling effect on those willing to testify.

After the verdict, the accuser's mother rebuked the boys for "lack of any moral code."

"You were your own accuser, through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on," she said. She added that the case "does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on."

Echoing that, the judge said that "as bad as things have been for all of the children involved in this case, they can all change their lives for the better."

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kawikakoike96819 wrote:
Justice served
on March 17,2013 | 05:36AM
patk wrote:
More convictions needed... read the Anonymous blog on this story at http://localleaks.me/localleaks/steubenvillefiles/index.html.
Granted, some of it is probably just internet speculation, but at least they have things laid out for you to decide for yourself.
Also there is definitely more truth to be found at points in the blog than there is coming from the kids, parents, coaches and local police who were involved. Corrupt small-town politics for sure.
on March 17,2013 | 01:34PM
onevoice82 wrote:
Another story that proves that boys and girls are pigs these days and the ones that watch are worse!
on March 17,2013 | 07:47AM
false wrote:
It all starts at home. Young people need to be supervised and have expectations for civil behavior on and off the internet.
on March 17,2013 | 08:07AM
kolekole wrote:
on March 17,2013 | 08:38AM
Mike174 wrote:
Whoa! A whole year... How about 10? And the judges comments: "Be careful how you record things on the social media"? Nice going judge... you pig.
on March 17,2013 | 08:39AM
olos73 wrote:
"The two teens broke down in tears..." Too bad. They'll learn the "hard" way in prison. One year not enough...
on March 17,2013 | 09:26AM
RichardCory wrote:
It's not prison. It's a juvenile facility. Probably still bad, but you can likely drop your sick prison rape fantasy. Not sure why people like you have such a fetish for that.
on March 17,2013 | 09:30AM
false wrote:
They are going to juvie. How hard can that be? It isn't prison yet where they would get a taste of their own medicine.
on March 17,2013 | 09:31AM
Skyler wrote:
They also have to register as sex offenders.
on March 17,2013 | 01:12PM
sak wrote:
Digital Penetration it's called
on March 17,2013 | 04:09PM
ross13moon wrote:
why should the convicted get "forgiveness" they got off with bearly a "slap on the wrist"
on March 17,2013 | 10:02AM
rangerwvu wrote:
Ok, I have one honest, have not kept up with the story question and a comment or two.. I am reading the story as the girl was raped by insertion of fingers, not anything else, correct? Not downplaying it at all, just wanting to confirm I am following this correctly. IMO due to the way it reads, the judge seems to be telling folks hey, if you had not recorded all this and had all this communication about it then you would not have been busted and all would have been ok? It seems to me the point would be that what occurred was a crime. However, it does seem to me that in a way the even larger crime in this case is that no one stopped it and folks treating it so casually. Also, the cost to the public for this long drawn out court process has to be huge if you think about it.....and I have to wonder if there had not been any pics if the girl would have even made the complaint. That's a whole other educational angle that we need to address as a society possibly.
on March 17,2013 | 11:29AM
patk wrote:
read the Anonymous blog on this story at http://localleaks.me/localleaks/steubenvillefiles/index.html.
Granted, some of it is probably just internet speculation, but at least they have things laid out for you to decide for yourself.
Also there is definitely more truth to be found at points in the blog than there is coming from the kids, parents, coaches and local police who were involved. Corrupt small-town politics for sure.
on March 17,2013 | 01:33PM
Skyler wrote:
Oh boo-hoo. Sorry they got caught, that's all.
on March 17,2013 | 01:11PM
wizard417 wrote:
the right decision was made, they were guilty and actually got off easy. the victim will have to live with this forever. those who were against prosecuting and those who said nothing about what they knew should have this happen to one of their family member and see how it is to have people close their eyes and ignore what happened to save their football players.. god help us
on March 17,2013 | 02:36PM
onwardupward wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 17,2013 | 02:51PM
dyw001 wrote:
I'm sure you wouldn't be saying that if it happens to your sister. But then again, maybe you wouldn't care since you sound like you don't have any morals.
on March 17,2013 | 03:36PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Shame on the courts. That was a weak sentence and sent no message to those bozos.
on March 18,2013 | 05:46AM
kukui_nut wrote:
Did any of these kids get charged with underage drinking?
on March 18,2013 | 07:05AM
Nevadan wrote:
How about the parents who hosted the parties?
on March 18,2013 | 08:16AM
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