Steubenville Teens Plan to Appeal
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Judge Thomas Lipps reached a decision on Sunday in the trial of two Steubenville high school football players accused of raping an allegedly drunk 16-year-old.
He handed down a guilty verdict on all three counts and sentenced the boys to time in a juvenile correctional facility.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were accused of raping the girl during a series of back-to-school parties last August.
Mays was also charged with disseminating a nude photo of a minor.
Judge Lipps gave Mays a minimum of two years and Richmond a minimum of one year behind bars.
The teens could be detained until they are 21 years old. The length of the sentence will be determined by the Department of Youth Services and will be based on behavior and rehabilitation.
Mays and Richmond will be credited for the time they served before the trial.
Before announcing the verdict, Judge Lipps said he was struck by the “high quality” of attorneys.
He said he examined the evidence and reread all of the text messages, and found the things presented in the case were “profane and ugly.”
The victim was not in the courtroom when the ruling was read.
After the verdict, sobs could be heard from Mays and Richmond.
“I’d like to apologize to the victim, her family, my family, and the community. Those pictures should have never been sent around, much less taken,” said Mays.
When Richmond apologized, he walked across the room toward the victim’s family and broke down crying.
“I had no intentions of doing anything that day. And I’m sorry for putting you guys through this,” he said.
Their fathers also addressed the crowd in court.
“I’m very sorry for putting everyone through this … the community, school … everybody else,” Mays’ father said.
Richmond’s father, Nathaniel, spoke of his own history with alcohol and said it caused him a lot of problems and destroyed his life. He said he has not had a drink in 12 years.
“I know that God can fix this and give you that strength to forgive these two men,” he said after apologizing to the victim and her family.
The victim’s mother said this chapter does not define her daughter and had a message for the defendants.
“Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach, or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of compassion, but a lack of any moral code,” said the victim’s mother, who Fox 8 is not naming to protect the identity of the victim, in a statement.
The victim’s attorney said the girl is trying to get back to normal.
“She is looking forward to life without all this around her. She just wants to be a kid again,” said Bob Fitzsimmons.
According to Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, the defense was stunned by the judge’s decision.
There are plans to appeal.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said additional charges could be forthcoming.
Judge Lipps said he hopes parents and children who have seen what was brought forth during the trial can have a conversation about social media and alcohol.
Testimony was presented over four days, centered around the argument of whether the victim was too drunk the night of Aug. 11 and the early morning of Aug. 12 to understand what was happening to her and to consent.
The alleged victim testified Saturday that she didn’t remember much about the night because she was drunk.
During closing statements on Saturday, attorneys for the boys argued the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their clients raped the girl, calling into question the alleged victim’s credibility.
They also questioned whether various cell pictures, videos, and social media posts circulated in the days after the alleged rape as well national media attention tainted testimony.
Prosecutors told the judge there is no question the girl was “substantially impaired.”
(Fox 8′s Melissa Reid and CNN contributed to this report.)