A judge concluded two star high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio were guilty of raping an alleged intoxicated 16 year-old West Virginia female last August. The jury-less trial against 17 year-old Trent Mays and 16 year-old Ma’lik Richmond sparked a bitter divide in the close knit Ohio community, with some supporting the accused teenaged boys, and others standing by the victim accuser. The judge’s verdict Sunday sets up the possibility the two boys will be jailed until age 21, since they were tried as juveniles, as reported by CNN today.
Judge Thomas Lipps announced his decision after reviewing evidence presented over four days of testimony in the case against Mays and Richmond, who were tried before the visiting judge, without a jury.
The verdict marks the end of a contentious trial that has brought national attention for its, “lurid text messages, cell phone pictures and videos, and social media posts surrounding the alleged sexual abuse of the girl”.
Mays and Richmond were accused of raping the girl during a series of “end-of-summer” parties in August 2012. Prosecutors allege Richmond and Mays digitally penetrated the victim, an act that constitutes rape under Ohio law if not consensual.
Attorneys for the two teenaged boys maintain they were not guilty of the accused crime. The defense attorneys said the two male teens claimed that the sexual contact was consensual, according to the Daily News.
A crucial issue in the case was the question of whether the alleged victim was too drunk on evening of August 11, and into the early morning hours of August 12, to comprehend what was happening to her and to consent.
The case drew international attention for the appalling nature of the allegations and for the way in which the alleged crimes unfolded via Twitter and on YouTube. Mays also faced a child pornography charge because he took pictures of the victim which were later posted on social media.
In one of the more lurid images that went viral soon after the parties, the teenaged girl is seen being carried around by her wrists and ankles, apparently passed out.
A teammate Mark Cole, who was granted immunity by prosecutors, testified Friday that he videotaped Mays penetrating the victim with his finger during a car ride that night, but deleted the video the next morning.
Another witness claimed Richmond penetrated the victim while she was in the basement of a home where one of the parties that night was held.
Special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter noted in her opening statements that the girl was, “somebody who was too impaired to say no, somebody who was too impaired to say stop”.
The girl alleges she had no memory of the events, and only learned what happened by piecing together what others told her and seeing photos and video posted online. One picture showed the victim lying naked in a basement.
In one text message, Mays admitted taking that picture of her, with his semen on top of her, but said that he did not know how the photograph had made its way onto social media. He further claimed the sex was consensual.
In earlier testimony Saturday, two former friends of the victim testified for the defense that the girl had a reputation as a liar.
An expert defense witness also said the girl may have had sufficient amounts of alcohol in her system to cause a memory lapse, implying she could have consented to having sex but didn’t remember doing so.
No word yet on when sentencing in the controversial case will take place.