School footballers weep as they are convicted of raping 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio

 

Two high school football players from the struggling former steel town of Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty today of raping a 16-year-old girl during a night of partying in August last year, bringing to a conclusion a case that has cast a shadow over an already troubled community.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were accused of penetrating the victim’s vagina with their fingers, without her consent, an offence that is classified as rape under Ohio law. The girl was the final witness at the five-day trial, saying she remembered little of the night in question because she had been drunk.

She said she became aware of what had happened the following day, after seeing postings about herself and the previous night’s events on social media sites. Mays was found guilty on a second count of disseminating a nude photo of a minor. Another witness, also a 17-year-old Steubenville football player, admitted in court that he had filmed Mays performing the rape but later deleted the clip from his phone.

Steubenville’s steel mill closed in 2005, leaving a large hole in the local economy. In the years since, the town has invested its pride in its celebrated high school football team, known as Big Red.

The case caused divisions, with several of the victim’s school friends abandoning her after she reported the crime. Some testified for the defence, describing the girl as a habitual liar. Others accused the town of having tolerated the football team’s bad behaviour for too long.

Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced Mays to a minimum of two years and Richmond a minimum of one year in a juvenile correctional facility.

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