Steubenville Rape Trial Begins

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If you have not heard of this case, please read Ohio Town Protecting Football Players from Rape Charges and Steubenville Gang Rape Case: February Update for more information.

Trent Mays, 17, left, Ma’lik Richmond,16, and Richmond’s attorney Walter Madison before the trial began Wednesday. (Keith Srakocic, Associated Press / March 13, 2013)

Steubenville, Ohio used to be a thriving town. But when the steel mills closed, most of the residents moved away. Residents still continue to move away since there are not many jobs available, and the jobs that are available don’t pay much;the median income is only $33,000. Then in 2005, the local high school football team won the State Championship… a team that few people believed in. Then the team won again in 2006, providing hope to a town that needed it. There is no question that high school football is important to the town; after all, the football stadium has 10,000 seats while the town’s population is 18,659. Now, two members of the football team are being accused of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party. Now, all of America is watching Steubenville.

Wide receiver Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and quarterback Trent Mays, 17, are being charged with rape. Richmond is accused of raping the girl by penetrating her vaginally with his finger while Mays is charged with rape for using his hands to vaginally penetrate and then distributing child pornography. Mays is also accused of trying to engage in oral sex, but was unable to and instead masturbated on her while at the home of another student. His DNA was found on a blanket at the scene of the crime. The defense attorneys will be arguing that the victim was able to give her consent and that the sex was consensual. The prosecutor will be arguing that the girl was impaired and could not give her consent.

The judge presiding over the case and the one deciding the fates of the two defendants is Judge Thomas Lipps.  On the first day of the trial, two girls (and friends of the victim) testified that the victim was drunk and having trouble walking on the night she was allegedly raped. One witness says that the girls filled cups with Stoli Vanilla vodka to drink at the party and that they victim “went downhill fast.” The next morning, the victim was confused, crying that she could not remember anything. When the witness was asked about the photograph of the alleged victim being carried by two males, the witness testified that the girl was conscious while this was happening, and that one of the boys stepped on her hair. One photograph that was not released to the public shows the victim asleep with what appears to be semen on her stomach. Earlier, Richmond stated on ABC News 20/20 that “I didn’t rape anybody. I didn’t witness a rape going on. And if I would have thought that somebody was being raped or anything like that, I would have stopped it.” Yet, there are pictures and Twitter statuses of several members of the football team posing with the victim and joking about her being raped.

Even though Richmond and Mays are accused of rape and are almost adults, they are only being tried as juveniles. They are currently on house arrest, attending school at a juvenile-detention facility. There are rumors that the town officials and sheriff department has been covering up the crime, protecting the football players.Meanwhile, the victim has been called “slut” by her peers and wakes up crying in the middle of the night from horrible nightmares.  If the defendants are found guilty, they will be held in juvenile jail until they are 21-years-old and will be required to register as sex offenders.

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