|Steubenville Teens Convicted in Rape Trial|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27)||Mar 17, 2013, 9:13 AM|
Two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl have been found delinquent by a judge -- the juvenile court equivalent of guilty.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were both sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail and could be held until they are 21 years old. Mays was sentenced to an additional year for a charge related to distributing nude images of a minor.
Both teens were told to avoid contact with the victim at least until they are 21 and both were required to register as juvenile sex offenders.
Judge Thomas Lipps told the court that he reviewed the case's documents and text messages again. He said that many of the things learned during the trial were "profane" and "ugly."
Lipps said the case showed alcohol "as a particular danger to our teenage youth" before finding the teens "delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt."
Cries could be heard in court from the teens and their families.
Mays' attorney called him a "family-oriented, loving, young man" and asked the judge for leniency. Richmond's lawyer cried as he spoke about his client and his difficult family history.
Mays briefly addressed the court saying, "I would truly like to apologize to [the victim] and her family."
Richmond cried as he approached the front of the courtroom.
"I would like to apologize," he said, struggling to speak through his sobs. "I had no intentions to do anything like that. I'm sorry to put you guys through this."
Richmond's father also addressed the court and discussed not being there for his son and his own struggles with alcoholism.
"I'm sorry for what you all had to go through," Richmond's father told the victim's parents, "and I hope somewhere in your hearts that you can forgive Trent and Ma'lik for the pain that they caused your daughter and put you through."
He said he felt responsible for his son's actions.
"I apologize to the world, not only my community, for the bad light that has been shone on Steubenville and everybody else," Richmond said.
After the verdict, the victim's mother read a statement in which she scolded Mays and Richmond for their "lack of moral code," but said the situation does not define her daughter.
"It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in, or what sport you've played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion, but a lack of any moral code," the victim's mother said.
"Your decisions that night affected countless lives, including those most dear to you," she continued. "You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on. I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions, and pray hard for forgiveness."
The verdict came after a four-day trial that included tearful testimony from the accuser who said she was "embarrassed and scared" after hearing about the night she was allegedly sexually assaulted while intoxicated.
"I honestly did not know what to think because I didn't remember anything," she testified.
The teen pieced together the night's events from Twitter, Instagram photos, a YouTube video, text messages and witnesses.
Prosecutors accused Mays and Richmond of using their fingers to vaginally penetrate the girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, as other teenagers watched. Mays was also accused of later sending text messages that included photographs of the girl with her clothing removed and charged with distributing nude images of a minor.
Brian Duncan, a lawyer representing Mays, told ABC News' "20/20" that what occurred that night was consensual.
"Trent Mays did not rape the young lady in question," Duncan said.
Richmond, in an exclusive interview recently with "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas, said, "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," he added, "I would have stopped it."
The case drew further attention when some outside the small Rust Belt town accused local officials of willfully protecting the football players, seen as hometown heroes.
ABC News' Russell Goldman contributed to this report.