The Ohio football stars charged with raping a 16-year-old girl in a night of degradation and humiliation have been found guilty.
In emotional courtroom scenes, both defendants Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, wept uncontrollably as Judge Thomas Lipps handed down his verdict, describing their actions as ‘profane and ugly.’
As Mays and Richmond were comforted by their attorneys and their families sobbed, prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter pressed for a stern sentencing reminding the judge: ‘They showed absolutely no regard for what happened to the victim.
Reaction: Ma’lik Richmond, openly weeps after learning the verdict in his trial at the juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio today; he was sentenced to at least one year at a juvenile detention center
Emotions: On the left, Defense attorney Walter Madison, right comforts Ma’lik Richmond, left; right, Mays enters the courtroom ahead of the judge’s decision.
Family members console each other as Judge Thomas Lipps (not shown) delivers the verdicts in the trial of Ma’lik Richmond, 16 and Trent Mays, 17, in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio, March 17, 2013
Mays faced an additional charge of the use and dissemination of nude images of a minor. He received the same sentence for that to run consecutively.
His minimum detention is two years.
His actions were, according to Judge Lipps, ‘more egregious’ making it inappropriate that he should face the same sentence as Richmond.
Trial by social media: The messages over Twitter, Instagram and text that were exchanged that night and the next day have become central to the case - and to the outrage it has caused nationwide
Verdict: Two protestors hug outside the Jefferson County Justice Center after hearing the verdict in the trial
Richmond’s father, Nathaniel, who has been present in court every day made his way over to his son, fell to his knees and told him that he loved him.
‘My life is ruined,’ Richmond told attorney his Walter Madison, who was clearly shocked at the verdict.
Mays father, Bryan, held his head in his hands as the defendant’s sister Rhiannan and mother wept.
Both defendants took the opportunity to address the victim and her family – present for the verdict and visible to the defendants but out of view of the main court in a screened off section of seating.
Mays was composed as he said: ‘I would like to apologize to [the victim] and her family, my family and the community. No pictures should have been sent let alone ever taken.’
But though Mays apologized quite specifically for taking pictures of the victim and sending them nowhere did he mention or offer an apology for the rape.
In every communication with the victim following the night of 11 -12 August he repeatedly denied raping her.
In fact in an incriminating detail it is an allegation he denies before it is ever made. Again and again his texts show him turning the blame on the victim, hectoring her, pressurizing her not to go to the police and telling her that the rape ‘didn’t happen.’
Standing in court, convicted of that crime and filled with apparent regret, the rape remained a crime for which he does not apologize.
When it came to Richmond’s turn, he walked towards the victim and her family, across the courtroom, weeping; ‘I would like to apologize. I had no intention to put you guys through this. I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.
‘I ruined her life.’
At this, he could no longer speak because he was overcome with tears, and was walked back to this seat by Fred Abdalla Jr, Chief Probation Officer for Jefferson County Juvenile Court.
Apologies followed from Bryan Mays, Greg Aggresta – Richmond’s guardian who, along with his wife Jennifer have been in court every day. The Aggresta’s have spoken openly about their support for Richmond and love for him ‘whatever happened.’
Mr Madison said: ‘To some extent they blame themselves.’
It would be hard to understate the intensity of the courtroom scenes as all three young people - defendants and victim – and their families took in the devastation this case has wrought on their lives.
This was not a time of jubilation on the victim’s family’s part – they declined the opportunity to address the court.
This was a time for the defendants to absorb the fact that this finding will be, as Mr Madison put it, ‘an escort for the rest of their lives.’
Across days of often appalling testimony the court has heard texts, tweets and emails between the defendants and their friends.