An Ohio judge yesterday sentenced two teenage boys to at least a year in a juvenile prison after finding them guilty of raping a classmate in a closely watched trial that hinged on text messages, tweets and pictures shared online and among the defendants and their friends.
Judge Thomas Lipps’ sentence means Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17, could remain imprisoned until they turn 21. Mays, who was also convicted of using nudity-oriented material involving a minor, for having pictures of the girl on his cellphone, was sentenced to an additional year in detention.
Relatives and family members, and the defendants, appealed for leniency.
“I’m aware that this is the first time they have been in trouble with the law, but these are serious charges,” Lipps said in announcing his sentence. He noted that had they been charged as adults rather than in juvenile court, they would have been spending “many years” in an adult prison.
Both boys 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.
Both boys wept and hugged relatives in the courtroom before being taken into custody to begin serving their sentences.
The case captured national attention by touching on issues beyond the criminal accusations. Women’s groups said the behavior of witnesses who took pictures of what was happening and joked about the “rape” of a “dead girl” was symptomatic of a misogynistic attitude allowed to flourish in Steubenville, Ohio, and elsewhere.
Some compared the girl’s treatment to that of a 23-year-old woman in India who died after being gang-raped on a bus and tossed into the street last December – about the same time the Steubenville case began attracting national attention.