An Ohio high school student is back on his school’s football team after serving a little over nine months of a one-year sentence for rape.
Ma’lik Richmond, 18, of Steubenville, was found guilty last year – along with fellow student Trent Mays – of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl after a night of drinking and partying in August 2012. The case sparked outrage on social media after a picture emerged showing Mays and Richmond carrying the victim, who appears to be unconscious, by her hands and feet.
In an interview before the trial, Richmond told ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas he didn’t think it was rape.
“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,” Richmond said.
Following his conviction, Richmond turned to the victim’s family and begged for forgiveness.
“I’m sorry to put you guys through this,” he said, crying.
Richmond was sentenced to a year at a juvenile detention center. He served nine months and was released in January.
A judge also classified the teen as a sex offender, a classification that will require him to report to an officer every six months for the next 20 years.
While some are criticizing the school for allowing Richmond back on the team, the Ohio High School Athletic Association says this is a local school decision.
“The OHSAA is bound by Bylaw 451, which gives the school the authority to determine if the student can participate,” OHSAA’s Information Director Tim Stried said.
Fred Abdalla Jr., Richmond’s probation officer, defended the school’s decision to allow the student back on the roster.
“I think the boy should be allowed to play,” Abdalla said. “Ma'lik Richmond has done everything the court has asked him since he’s been sentenced.”