STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (KDKA/AP) — Two Ohio high school football players who were found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl have been sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail.
Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond were found guilty Sunday of attacking the girl after an alcohol-fueled party last August. The case roiled the small city and stirred reaction from activists online.
The judge sentenced them both to at least one year in juvenile jail and said both can be held until they’re 21. Mays, who’s 17, was sentenced to an additional year in jail on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, to be served after his rape sentence is completed.
Both Mays and the 16-year-old Richmond have been ordered to avoid contact with the victim until they’re 21.
After the verdict was read, both apologized to the victim and to the community. Both were emotional as they spoke, and Richmond struggled at times to talk through his sobs.
Mays apologized for taking a photo of the girl that was posted online and fueled speculation over what happened that night.
The judge said the boys could have been tried as adults and faced more severe penalties. However, the court saw a chance for their rehabilitation.
Mays and Richmond 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.
State Attorney General Mike DeWine said despite today’s verdict, this is not over.
DeWine said he will reconvene the Jefferson County Grand Jury to continue the investigation with an interest on 16 people who refused to speak during the initial investigation.
He said that no stone will be left unturned.
Closing arguments wrapped up in the case Saturday evening.
On the fourth day of the non-jury trial in Steubenville, the alleged victim testified that she was embarrassed, humiliated and didn’t remember much about what happened that night back in August.
The victim said her night began with heavy drinking. She told the court that her friend poured vodka into a slushy. She also drank malt liquor from a can and had vodka shots.
The teen said she left the party with Mays, and then the next thing she remembered was waking up naked on a couch in an unfamiliar home.
She said: “I was really embarrassed. I had no idea what had happened at all.”
Over the next few days she said she heard from friends about her behavior while drunk. Pictures were taken, people were texting. One picture showed her on YouTube.
“To wake up and to not remember, not have any recollection of what happened, and then to find out about what happened over social media, over texts, over everybody around the world knowing what happened to you before you did is devastating,” said Katie Hannah, of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
During closing arguments, the prosecution claimed the victim was too drunk and could not willingly have sex.
“What we have here is substantial impairment; a reduction in the ability to act or think, we’ve got it. And they knew it,” said prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter, of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“And I would submit, that after the court reviews all the evidence in its entirety, that when it returns with a verdict of not guilty of… Trent Mays,” defense attorney Duncan Neenan said during closing arguments.
The defense wrapped up its case presenting testimony from two teenage girls and a clinical psychologist talking about the effects of alcohol.
After the trial, East Liverpool resident Sable Foster was happy with the verdict, saying her first reaction was “thankful.”
“Thankful we fought long and hard,” she said. “Our battle cry was long and loud and we won.”
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