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Steubenville's Ma'lik Richmond returns to football team after rape conviction

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Steubenville wide receiver Ma'lik Richmond returned to the football team on Monday, setting off another fury that has divided the football crazy town. Richmond served nine months in jail after being found delinquent of rape in a case that has gotten national attention.

The night of August 11, 2012 started out as a normal night for most teenagers not just in Steubenville, Ohio, but for all teenagers across the country. Friends gathered together to spend time together and hang out.

By the end of the night, it would be everything that is wrong with underage drinking, social media, and teenage judgement. It would turn into one of the biggest scandals of 2013.

It will forever be known as the Steubenville Rape Case

What we know (from court transcripts) is this: A 16 year old girl from Weirton, West Virginia (Jane Doe) and two of her friends met up with Steubenville football players Trent Mays, Ma'lik Richmond and another unidentified player. Jane Doe knew Mays, as Steubenville and Weirton are border cities separated by the Ohio river. They were to go to a party in Steubenville at the home of another Steubenville football player. They stayed at the party for a time, where there was underage drinking, and according to testimony, Jane Doe had already showed signs of being impaired.

Here is where things really start to unravel

When the host of the party's brother comes home (who is 24 years old, and a volunteer football coach at the high school), he breaks up the party, and tells everyone to leave. When the group (the girls and the guys) were to leave the party, the friends of Jane Doe insisted that she leave with them. She declined, as she wanted to stay and party more, and stay with Mays, who she (according to her friend's police interviews) had a crush on. Despite their reservations, the girls let Jane Doe stay with the group of Steubenville football players.

The group then heads out to a second party, also at the home of another Steubenville football player. After being told by the mother and owner of the home that "Everyone not sleeping over has to go home", Jane Doe gets sick on the street outside the home. To many, she is showing signs of being seriously impaired. Witnesses say that she couldn't even walk. Nevertheless, she gets back into the car with Mays, Richmond, and another Steubenville football player to head off to another party, again being hosted by a Steubenville football player.

Warning: graphic content

During the ten minute drive to the third party, Mays raped Jane Doe. The two of them sat in the back seat, with Richmond and another player in the front seat. According to testimony, Mays exposed Jane Doe's breasts, and penetrated her with his finger. According to Ohio state law, it was at that time when he committed rape. Mays actually went as far as to ask the driver of the car to take a video of him doing it.

Arriving at the third party, Jane Doe's condition continues to go down hill. She passes out in the basement of the house. When she wakes up, she is naked, and covered with urine and semen. Her underwear is missing, along with her phone. shoes, and earrings. She has no memory of the last 12 hours.

Usually in these types of cases, where the victim has no memory of what happened, they go nowhere in the court system

However, this is where the stupidity of teenagers takes over

In the days following the incident, rumors began to surface about the players, the girl, and exactly what happened. They would have stayed rumors forever, if the boys involved from the Steubenville area weren't so stupid. Pictures and videos were sent from cell phones to all social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They show different people taking advantage of Jane Doe in various states of dress and undress. It shows Richmond penetrating her with his finger, and Mays trying to force oral sex on her. One of the other pictures that was taken was of Mays and Richmond holding her (some say unconscious) body by her ankles and hands and carrying her across the room. Worst of all, there was a 12 minute video of other Steubenville students discussing the rape. It is too disturbing to post, but let's just say that the NICEST thing said on the tape was when a boy said "She looked deader than Caylee Anthony". Pretty sick stuff.

In essence, they created their own evidence against them

Sounds pretty open and shut, doesn't it?

Ahhhh....but this is Steubenville, where football is the almighty king. A very valuable member of the "Big Red" team couldn't have done anything wrong now could he? WE NEED HIM PLAYING FOOTBALL. How are going to win without him? Both Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were members of the Big Red football team, but it was Richmond who had star potential. The 6'2" 200 pound wide receiver was among the best in the state at his position. The Big Red won state championship in 2005 and 2006, with state runner up finishes in 1987, 1988, and 2008. They currently sit third on the all-time Ohio wins list, just behind powers Massillon Washington and Canton McKinley. Coach Reno Saccoccia (pronounced SOCK-ach) is entering his 32nd season at the school, and the field turf on which the team plays bears his name. Their facilities are among the best in the state, as the 10,000 capacity stadium has bleacher seats in back of each end zone.

Football is a huge deal in Steubenville. Is it big enough to push the incident under the rug?

Almost

Richmond and Mays were both tried and found guilty in juvenile court (Many say thanks to external pressure). Richmond was found delinquent of rape and sentenced to one year in juvenile jail. Mays was found delinquent of not only rape, but since the victim was 16, and he distributed the naked pictures, he was also found delinquent of distribution of child pornography, and sentenced to two years in juvenile jail. The case was just featured on ABC's "20/20" show. The full segments can be seen below. It's a fascinating watch.

Steubenville Rape Part I here

Steubenville Rape Part II here

Did the punishment fit the crime? Should Richmond be allowed to return to the football team?

It's the two questions that are causing such an uproar in Steubenville these days. Richmond served nine months of his year sentence, with three months off for good behavior and being a first time offender. He does have to register as a Tier II sex offender in Ohio every 180 days for the next 20 years. It's a action that Richmond is currently appealing. He returned to school in January and was suspended from school activities for the rest of last school year. The question that has come up with Richmond's release is:

Is he rehabilitated? Head Coach Reno Saccoccia thinks so. In an interview with FOX 28, Saccoccia gives his explanation:

Everything the judicial system of Ohio asked him to do he completed. Everything the school system asked him to do upon his release, he completed — both academically and socially.

Saccoccia went on to say:

I feel that we're really not giving him a second chance. Some may look at it like that. I feel like he's earned a second chance.

Naturally, there is opposition to the coaches opinion. Alexandra Goddard, a blogger who was the first to expose the vicious tweets regarding the case, feels that it was the "football culture" that allowed Richmond back on the team. In an e-mail sent by Goddard to BuzzFeed on Monday, Goddard said:

I wanted to be shocked, but I think we all knew it was bound to happen. . . . Steubenville City Schools hasn’t really done a lot in the past two years to prove to the world that they don’t tolerate rape culture and allowing a Tier II registered sex offender on the team pretty much solidifies the assumption that they are concerned about wins rather than the safety of young girls or the destruction of rape culture in their area.

Before you ask, there is nothing the Ohio High School Athletic Association can do about it. The OHSAA bylaws state that it is up to the school to determine when an athlete can return to the field. As long as the "personal conduct" did not relate to any athletic contests or activities with the school, the athlete can return to the playing field.

Should Ma'lik Richmond be allowed back on the Steubenville football team?

It's an answer that is going to be highly debated for years to come

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