STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio high school football player found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party two years ago returned to the field Tuesday with his old team.
Ma’Lik Richmond played for Steubenville High School in a scrimmage against Cambridge, WTOV-TV reported.
Richmond and fellow athlete Trent Mays were adjudicated delinquent in the August 2012 assault on a West Virginia girl. Richmond was sentenced to one year in juvenile detention and Mays, who was also found guilty of using his phone to take a naked picture of the underage girl, was sentenced to two years.
Richmond, now 18, was classified as a Tier II sex offender last August, meaning he will have to register every six months for the next 20 years. Unlike adult sex offenders, Richmond’s name won’t be included on publicly accessible websites, and he can request to have the classification removed later based on his rehabilitation.
The school’s football coach, Reno Saccoccia, said Richmond returned to school in January and was suspended from extracurricular activities for the remainder of the year. He told the TV station “it was a horrible crime,” but Richmond completed everything the judicial system asked of him.
“We don’t deal in death sentences for juvenile activity, and I just feel that he’s earned a second chance,” Saccoccia said.
Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesman Tim Stried said it is up to the school to determine whether a student athlete participates in sports.
The school’s superintendent and athletic director did not return messages from The Associated Press.
Richmond’s lawyer Walter Madison declined to comment on Richmond’s status with the football team, but said in a written statement that “Band, debate, and sports teams reinforce critical lessons meant to guide one throughout life.”
The case brought international attention to the small city of 18,000 and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the football team.
A grand jury investigating whether laws were broken in the case brought additional charges against six adults, including Steubenville’s then-superintendent Michael McVey. He and the district’s former technology director have pleaded not guilty to charges including evidence tampering and obstructing justice.
Charges against four other individuals have been resolved.