Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 16, 2013

Ohio player given 20-year sex-offender status


Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio high school football player convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party was ordered Friday to register as a sex offender every six months for the next 20 years.

Jefferson County Judge Thomas Lipps gave 17-year-old Ma’Lik Richmond the state’s second-toughest sex offender classification — Tier II — the same that his co-defendant received in June.

Unlike adult sex offenders, Richmond’s name won’t be included on publicly accessible websites. And he can request to have the sex offender classification removed later based on his history of rehabilitation.

Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

The judge’s options for requiring Richmond to report to authorities ranged from every 90 days for life to once a year for 10 years.

In March, Lipps convicted Richmond and co-defendant Trent Mays, 17, in the rape of the West Virginia girl following a party in Steubenville in eastern Ohio in August 2012. Richmond is serving at least a year in the Ohio juvenile detention system.

Mays was also found guilty of using his phone to take a picture of the underage girl naked. He received a two-year minimum prison sentence.

The victim’s attorney said Lipps’ classification decision on Friday did not come as a surprise.

“It recognizes the seriousness of the offense that these young men committed and also the significance of the damages that occur when people that take advantage of other peoples’ bodies without consent,” said Wheeling, W.Va., attorney Bob Fitzsimmons.

Fitzsimmons said the victim’s parents attended Friday’s hearing.

The case drew international attention because of the role of texting and social media in exposing the attack and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the celebrated Steubenville High School football team. A grand jury is considering whether other people broke the law in connection with the case by not alerting authorities to initial reports of the rape.