Two Steubenville, Ohio high school football players were found guilty of rape earlier today and face at least a year in the juvenile justice system. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were found guilty of the rape of an intoxicated 16-year old girl in a case that caught the nation’s attention due to the power of the football program in the working-class city of Steubenville, located on the Ohio border west of Pittsburgh.
Mays and Richmond manually penetrated the girl at a series of summer-end parties in 2012, but also went as far to post pictures and video via text messages and social media documenting their actions. Richmond has been sentenced to one year in a juvenile facility, while Mays has been sentenced to a total of two years due to the dissemination of nude pictures of the female victim, who at 16 is considered a minor under Ohio law.
Under Ohio law, manual penetration is considered rape.
The defense for Mays and Richmond made an attempt to argue throughout the case that the girl — while drunk, had a questionable reputation, and still could have consented to the sexual acts which took place. On the flipside, the prosecution argued that her level of intoxication — which, by some accounts, may have included drugging — would not allow her to make a conscious decision.
Texts including pictures of what happened that evening quickly flew around the teenage community inside and outside of Steubenville as Mays and Richmond passed them along, including videos of the girl in an intoxicated state. The video, as it happens, was shot by other members of the Big Red football team who have yet to be named– but, given what we’ve learned regarding the case, could have done something to stop what happened.
Under Ohio law, Mays and Richardson can be held until they turn 21, but their collective futures will be determined as their juvenile sentences wind down in the next year to two years.
The simple facts are this:
People are intoxicated at parties– often to levels which cause them to lose consciousness. Only those who have vile intentions do something to take advantage of those people.
Regardless of the regret they feel now, Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richardson acted in a way which they had to know, deep down, was wrong. You just can’t tell me that at some point — regardless of what base instincts were driving them — that they didn’t take a minute to consider what they were doing.
That the little voice in the back of their heads wasn’t at least making itself heard.
The willful decision to ignore that voice, and continue forward in exploiting a helpless young girl, was the decision that makes the sentence Mays and Richardson have received justified. We can only hope they learn from their mistakes and move on with a life outside of the public eye.
More importantly, we can only hope the female victim can move on with hers.
That’s what really matters here.
Football be damned.