Robin Sax: Conviction Of The Steubenville Rape Suspects - Fox 2 News Headlines

Robin Sax: Conviction Of The Steubenville Rape Suspects

Posted: Updated:

Steubenville, Ohio…two high school football players are convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl.

Robin Sax is our legal analyst, and gives her take on the verdict in the case.

(AP) Two members of the high school football team that is the pride of Steubenville were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community's athletes.

Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile jail, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video. Mays 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.

The two teens broke down in tears after the verdict was read and later apologized to the victim and to the community. Both were emotional as they spoke, and Richmond struggled at times to talk through his sobs. Richmond's father, Nathaniel, also asked that the victim's family "forgive Malik and Trent for the pain they put you through."

Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, 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.

The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged - accusations that Ohio's attorney general pledged to look into - and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry. Their arms linked, protesters who sought guilty verdicts stood outside the courthouse Sunday morning, some wearing masks.

The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn't have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing.

The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified.

"It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything."

The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn't explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.

"They treated her like a toy," said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.

Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.

In sentencing the boys, Judge Thomas Lipps urged everyone who had witnessed what happened in the case, including parents, "to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends."

The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.

"They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me," she testified. "I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video."

In questioning her account, defense attorneys went after her character and credibility. Two former friends of the girl testified that the accuser had a history of drinking heavily and was known to lie.

"The reality is, she drank, she has a reputation for telling lies," said lawyer Walter Madison, representing Richmond.

The two girls testified they were angry at the accuser because she was drinking heavily at the party and rolling around on the floor. They said they tried unsuccessfully to get her to stop drinking.

Nathaniel Richmond urged during the sentencing that parents speak to their children about "the dangers of alcohol and how it can lead to bad decisions that will affect the rest of your life." He said he himself was an alcoholic.

The accuser said that she does not remember being photographed as she was carried by Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond, an image that stirred up outrage, first locally, then globally, as it spread online. Others have testified the photo was a joke and the girl was conscious when it was taken.

After the trial, the accuser's mother rebuked the boys for "lack of any moral code."

"You were your own accuser, through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on," she said.

The photograph led to allegations that three other boys, two of them members of Steubenville High's celebrated Big Red team, saw something happening that night and didn't try to stop it but instead recorded it themselves.

The three boys weren't charged, fueling months of online accusations of a cover-up to protect the team, which law enforcement authorities have vehemently denied.

Instead, the teens were granted immunity to testify, and their accounts helped incriminate the defendants. They said the girl was so drunk she didn't seem to know what was happening to her and confirmed she was digitally penetrated in a car and later on a basement floor.

After Mays and Richmond were taken into custody Sunday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he planned to convene a grand jury next month to investigate whether anyone else should be charged in the case.

Noting that 16 people refused to talk to investigators, many of them underage, DeWine said possible crimes to be investigated include failure to report a felony and failure to report child abuse.

"This community desperately needs to have this behind them, but this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned," he said.

Mays and Richmond were determined to be delinquent, the juvenile equivalent of guilty, Lipps ruled in the juvenile court trial without a jury.

The length of their sentence beyond the minimum one year will be determined by juvenile authorities; they can be held until they're 21. Lipps said that "as bad as things have been for all of the children involved in this case, they can all change their lives for the better."

The accuser's mother echoed that, saying the case "does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on."

 

  • The Latest From Good Day LAMore>>

  • Rocco DiSpirito: Back To School Healthy Snacks

    Rocco DiSpirito: Back To School Healthy Snacks

    Friday, August 22 2014 2:39 PM EDT2014-08-22 18:39:23 GMT

    [VIEW PHOTO GALLERY] He's a chef and a #1 New York Times bestselling author, Rocco DiSpirito was here. Just in time for back to school, he's showing us healthy snacks for your kid's lunch box.

    [VIEW PHOTO GALLERY] He's a chef and a #1 New York Times bestselling author, Rocco DiSpirito was here. Just in time for back to school, he's showing us healthy snacks for your kid's lunch box.

  • Denny Laine: 'The British Invasion 50th Anniversary Tour'

    Denny Laine: 'The British Invasion 50th Anniversary Tour'

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:41 PM EDT2014-08-22 16:41:37 GMT

    It was 50 years ago that the British invasion changed the music world forever…and one of the guys right in the middle of all of it was Denny Laine.

    It was 50 years ago that the British invasion changed the music world forever…and one of the guys right in the middle of all of it was Denny Laine.


  • Movie Critic Matt Atchity: We Are Not Stuck With The Wide Releases

    Movie Critic Matt Atchity: We Are Not Stuck With The Wide Releases

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-08-22 15:57:16 GMT
    Matt Atchity is the editor in chief for the pop-culture website "Rotten Tomatoes." He also hosts a new show on Sirius XM called "Rotten Tomatoes Radio." The weekly one hour call in show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
    Matt Atchity is the editor in chief for the pop-culture website "Rotten Tomatoes." He also hosts a new show on Sirius XM called "Rotten Tomatoes Radio." The weekly one hour call in show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
  • Experts and Other GuestsExperts and Other GuestsMore>>

  • Movie Critic Matt Atchity: We Are Not Stuck With The Wide Releases

    Movie Critic Matt Atchity: We Are Not Stuck With The Wide Releases

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-08-22 15:57:16 GMT
    Matt Atchity is the editor in chief for the pop-culture website "Rotten Tomatoes." He also hosts a new show on Sirius XM called "Rotten Tomatoes Radio." The weekly one hour call in show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
    Matt Atchity is the editor in chief for the pop-culture website "Rotten Tomatoes." He also hosts a new show on Sirius XM called "Rotten Tomatoes Radio." The weekly one hour call in show airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
  • Marco Andretti: Almost A Fairytale Ending

    Marco Andretti: Almost A Fairytale Ending

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:30 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:30:58 GMT

    Marco Andretti continues his family's tradition of racing...and will show his stuff in Fontana later this month. In his rookie season, Marco came in second in the Indy 500...in a down to the wire finish!

    Marco Andretti continues his family's tradition of racing...and will show his stuff in Fontana later this month. In his rookie season, Marco came in second in the Indy 500...in a down to the wire finish!


  • Transition Clothes Into Fall Season

    Transition Clothes Into Fall Season

    Monday, August 18 2014 1:33 PM EDT2014-08-18 17:33:02 GMT
    Fall is just around the corner, and Style Expert Lindsay Albanese joined us this morning to show ways to transition our Summer-look straight into Autumn.
    Fall is just around the corner, and Style Expert Lindsay Albanese joined us this morning to show ways to transition our Summer-look straight into Autumn.
Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices