Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 17, 2013

2 Ohio football players convicted of raping girl

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."

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Stumbo questions Noah’s Ark incentives, backs off on expanded gambling

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of state incentives for a Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Grant County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Night Moves for First Friday

    A chance to enjoy an evening run through the streets of Ashland will be among the things to do during the First Friday ArtWalk and Downtown Live for August in downtown Ashland from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

    July 30, 2014

  • ‘Arts in the Vines’ will be in conjunction with U.S. 60 Yard Sale

    Offering a different taste of life in Carter County, the owners of RockSprings Winery are inviting locals and visitors to the U.S. 60 Yard Sale to spend some time in their vineyards during the first “Arts in the Vines” from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

    July 30, 2014

  • Grimes zeroes in on women’s issues with latest ad

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is out with a third television ad posing questions from Grimes’ supporters to Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    July 30, 2014

  • UPDATE: OEA to investigate Fairview

    State education investigators were scheduled to arrive in the Fairview school district this morning to interview school officials.
    Superintendent Bill Musick on Wednesday confirmed that two teams of investigators from the state Office of Educational Accountability will interview him and other officials.
    Others to be interviewed include school board members, council members of Fairview High and Fairview Middle schools, finance director Ernie Sharp and pupil personnel director Brant Creech.
    Interviews will be conducted at the high school and the middle school.
    The nature of the inquiry is unclear, because the OEA doesn’t release information on its investigations other than final reports.
    Musick said the OEA hadn’t told him what the investigation is about. “I don’t know a single question they’re going to ask,” he said. He said such visits are “not unusual.”
    Other sources say complaints have been lodged with the OEA about a number of irregularities, and that the OEA will examine Musick’s status and whether the board acted illegally in February when it rescinded its acceptance of his resignation.
    Musick had announced his retirement and tendered his resignation in the wake of a separate investigation by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association that penalized the district for using an ineligible player in 2012 and 2013.
    Musick said then that he was ready for retirement but later said he had had a change of heart and asked the board to reconsider his resignation.
    The Kentucky Department of Education’s legal department said the rehiring was illegal but the finding doesn’t have any enforcement power and the school board has not taken any further action.
    MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

    July 30, 2014

  • Stumbo says Bissett 'handpicked' by McConnell

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo said Wednesday there’s an obvious reason the president of the Kentucky Coal Association has publicly defended Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s support of the coal industry.

    July 30, 2014

  • colepotteronline.jpg Acoustic jam night at Callihan's

    With the onset of  patio season, the staff at Callihan’s American Pub & Grill have adopted a new program for Wednesday’s open-invitation entertainment with the all new Callihan’s Acoustic Jam Session, providing a stage for local talent and a spotlight for a featured musician each week.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Golf scramble will benefit Paramount Arts Center

    Paramount Woman’s Association’s seventh annual Ladies’ Golf Scramble is scheduled for Aug. 11 at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 30, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Parking, history, and some wiffleball

    The calendar flips to August tomorrow and some students in the area will be back in school next week.

    July 30, 2014

  • Students need better counseling to contribute more to the region, working group says

    A group studying how education can lift the economy of Appalachian Kentucky has several ideas, including a “counseling for careers” approach that would begin for students no later than middle school and continue through high school.

    July 30, 2014