Ma'lik Richmond, top, hugs his mother, Daphne Birden, after closing… (Keith Srakocic / Associated…)
The court had its say in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, with two high school football players found guilty Sunday of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.
The victim's mother also had a statement for the two defendants, Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17, who were immediately sentenced to one and two years, respectively, in juvenile detention. (Mays received an additional year because he was also convicted of using nudity-oriented material, in the form of pictures of the girl on his cellphone.)
“It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in, or what sport you’ve played," the victim's mother said. "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 this compassion but a lack of any moral code."
The mother gave her name to reporters before delivering the statement Sunday. However, The Times is withholding her identity because it could be used to identify her daughter, who has not been named in this case. The Times does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.
Two witnesses testified that the defendants sexually assaulted the girl during a night of partying on Aug. 11 and used their cellphones to take pictures of the incident. Those images went public and ultimately contributed to the case's notoriety.
"Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you," the victim's mother continued. "You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on.
"This does not define who my daughter is,” the mother said. Emotion then briefly rippled through her voice. “She will perservere, grow, and move on.
"I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions, and pray hard for his forgiveness.”
Both boys cried after the verdict was read and apologized.
“I would truly like to apologize,” Mays said. “No pictures should have been sent around, let alone have been taken.”
Richmond broke down sobbing as he tried to speak. “I would like to say I had no intentions to do anything like that,” he said.
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