One of the two former Ohio high school football players convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl has been released from a juvenile detention facility less than a year after his sentencing, the Associated Press reports.
Ma’Lik Richmond, who was 16 at the time of his conviction, was sentenced by a judge in March 2013 to a minimum of one year at a youth correctional facility. Fellow Steubenville High School student-athlete Trent Mays, who hasn’t yet been released, earned an extra year on his sentence for possession and transmission of nude photos of the victim.
It’s unclear exactly why Richmond was released before his one-year minimum sentence had expired. A legal analyst from WTOV9.com, a local news station in Ohio, said, “Unlike the adult criminal system where the focus is often punishment, the primary purposes of the juvenile justice system are the treatment and rehabilitation back into society of juvenile offenders.” Richmond thus appears to have satisfied the court’s requirements for rehabilitation before his one-year sentence ran its full term.
Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, released the following statement on behalf of his client on Sunday (via WTRF.com):
Ma'Lik Richmond recently completed his designated time at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Facility. The past 16 months have been extremely challenging for Ma'Lik and his extended family. At 16 years old, Ma'Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagination for any adult yet alone child. He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life. As with each other obstacle, Ma'Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin, and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life. While away, Ma'Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways. He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family. At this point, Ma'Lik wants most to be a high school teenager. In conjunction with his release, Ma'Lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, as we all need to heal and move on with our lives. We will have you know that Ma'Lik will be taking all the time necessary to focus on his academic and personal goals. We ask for your support and prayers as we move forward, Thank you."
The statement drew criticism from the victim’s attorney, Robert Fitzsimmons. He released his own statement Sunday night on behalf of the victim and her family (via WTRF.com):
Although everyone hopes convicted criminals are rehabilitated, it is disheartening that this convicted rapist's press release does not make a single reference to the victim and her family—whom he and his co-defendant scarred for life. One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself. Rape is about victims, not defendants. Obviously, the people writing his press release have yet to learn this important lesson."
At the sentencing last March, Richmond did apologize directly to the victim’s family. “I would like to apologize to you,” he said, before breaking down in tears. “I had no intention to do anything like that, and I’m sorry for putting you guys through this.”
Last August, Judge Thomas Lipps gave Richmond the state’s second-toughest sex-offender classification, per the Associated Press. It requires Mays to register as a sex offender every six months for 20 years. His name won’t appear on publically accessible websites, however, since he was a youth at the time of his conviction, and he can request later to have the classification removed based upon his rehabilitation. He filed an appeal of his classification in September, according to the AP, but no decision appears to have yet been made regarding his appeal.
This past fall, a handful of school officials from the Steubenville school district were charged by a grand jury in connection with the rape. The district’s director of technology, William Rhinaman, faces a late February trial, per the AP.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.