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Ohio football player, convicted of rape, gets sex-offender status

June 14, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Trent Mays, left, and co-defendant Ma'lik Richmond.
Trent Mays, left, and co-defendant Ma'lik Richmond. (Keith Srakocic / Associated…)

A Steubenville, Ohio, football player, convicted of raping an alcohol-impaired high school girl, must register as a sex offender every six months for the next 20 years, a judge ruled Friday.

Trent Mays, 17, must register as a Tier II sex offender, Judge Thomas Lipps ruled, according to WTOV-TV in Ohio. Lipps presided over the televised trial of Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, who were both convicted of raping the 16-year-old girl from West Virginia during an alcoholic night of summer partying last year.

The case drew international attention because images of the naked girl went viral in the social media universe.

After a four-day trial, Lipps sentenced Mays to a minimum of two years in the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, with the possibility that custody could be extended until he is 21.

Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year in such custody. He did not appear in court Friday, and the hearing on his potential status as a sex offender was continued.

Friday’s hearing in Jefferson County Juvenile Court in Steubenville is considered a required first step before the former high school football players can be transferred from a state juvenile detention center to a facility that treats sex offenders.

Unlike adult sex offenders, however, their names won't be included on publicly accessible websites. They can also request to have the sex-offender classification removed after they are rehabilitated.

During the early hours of Aug. 12, 2012, Mays, a quarterback on the Steubenville High School football team, and Richmond, a wide receiver, photographed the unconscious girl in naked or semi-naked positions, according to testimony and evidence in the trial. The judge found that the two also used their fingers to assault the girl, who prosecutors said was too drunk to respond let alone give consent.

In addition to the rape charge, Mays was found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, for taking and sending the nude photos of the girl.

The pictures went out on the Internet and the case became a cause celebre as advocates complained that the athletes were treated favorably because of a culture that pandered to local sports heroes.

A grand jury is considering whether other people broke the law in connection with the case by not alerting authorities to initial reports of the rape.

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