Ma’Lik Richmond, one of two former student-athletes in the small town of Steubenville, Ohio convicted last spring of the now notorious rape of a 16-year-old girl in August, 2012, has been released from the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Facility where he served about nine months of a one year sentence.
Richmond, also 16 at the time of the Steubenville rape, has reportedly “persevered… and made the most of …an unfortunate set of circumstances in his life,” according to a statement by his lawyer, Walter Madison, upon Richmond’s release. He further explained that “He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family.” The statement by Richmond’s attorney made no mention of the victim. Richmond’s family has reportedly asked that their privacy be respected as Richmond returns home.
In addition to his time served, Richmond has been classified as a sex-offender and must register as such every six months for the next 20 years, unless a request is granted to eliminate the requirement based on successful rehabilitation at some point in the future.
The rape that Richmond and his Steubenville High School football teammate, Trent Mays, were convicted of occurred during a night of drinking on August 11, 2012. The boys were caught, in large part, due to the fact that they and others posted multiple photos and videos of the incident to social media websites. The postings included crude commentary including references to “rape” and the “drunk girl.” One Twitter post from another former Steubenville athlete even read “some people deserve to be peed on,” in reference to the assault.
The young victim reportedly found out about the assault when she began to see the social media postings relating to it, and her parents reportedly found out about it only after a family member shared some of the social media postings with them. The victim reports having no memory of that portion of the evening and asserts that it is clear that she could not have consented to the sexual acts caught in the videos and photographs. The victim’s parents took their evidence to Steubenville police who investigated and arrested both Richmond and Mays about 10 days after the assault took place.
The case garnered national attention, in part, for two reasons. First, it involved allegations of yet another case of stereotypically insensitive jocks taking sexual liberties with a girl unable to consent seemingly with the belief that the rules didn’t apply to them. Second because of what has been alleged to be a failure to fully cooperate with the investigation by Steubenville school employees, and the attitude toward the incident expressed by the Steubenville High School football team’s coaching staff.
The football team’s coaches have been criticized for allowing any players to remain on the team who participated in the sexual assault either directly or indirectly, or had knowledge of it and failed to report it to authorities. A volunteer coach with the team, Nate Hubbard, reportedly suggested that there was no rape at all and that the victim claimed rape only because she didn’t know what else to say to her parents after they had seen the pictures and social media postings related to the incident. The former Steubenville running back also said “she had to make something up.”
It would appear that the battle wages on between those who take the stance that this is a case combining the issues of “boys will be boys” and girls behaving irresponsibly versus those who see “a culture of rape” for which consequences need to be suffered.
Since Richmond and Mays were convicted, six additional people have been indicted on charges relating to the rape as well, including an elementary school principal, an assistant football coach, a wrestling coach and the school’s director of technology. Those charged face a variety of charges ranging from providing alcohol to minors to perjury and obstruction of justice. All have pleaded not guilty and are reportedly expected to head to trial in late February.
By Michele Wessel