Two teenage boys from the Big Red football team in Steubenville, Ohio have been charged and found guilty for the rape of a 16-year-old girl.
Ma’lik Richmond, 16, has been sentenced to serve at least one year in juvenile detention, with the possibility of remaining there until age 21. Trent Mays, 17, has been sentenced to a minimum of two years. He was found guilty of both rape and distributing a nude picture of a minor.
The incident took place on the evening of Aug. 11, 2012, when the 16-year-old female was allegedly intoxicated and carried from party to party by Richmond and Mays.
Pictures and videos taken by witnesses that night show the girl only partially dressed and being carried by her hands and feet by Richmond and Mays. This picture was later posted on the Internet and gained international notoriety, which brought media attention to the incident.
Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter stated that the girl was defenceless from intoxication and the boys “treated her like a toy.”
Patrick Pizzoferrato, a witness at one of the parties, told the court that he joked about offering three dollars to anyone who would urinate on the intoxicated girl.
“She was kind of just sitting there. I thought I heard her mumbling,” said Pizzoferrato.
Another witness claimed he saw both Richmond and Mays with the girl in a friend’s basement, performing sexual acts on her.
“It wasn’t what I expected to see,” the witness stated.
During her testimony, the victim claimed that she has no recollection of the evening.
“It was really scary,” she said. “I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything.”
When photos and videos taken that night were distributed through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, news of the incident spread throughout the community.
As word spread, the photos and videos were quickly taken off the Internet, but not before the online hacker group Anonymous obtained some of the material.
The hacker group reposted online one video in particular of Michael Nodianos joking about the crime after it had taken place. He is heard saying in the video, “they raped her quicker than Mike Tyson,” and “they peed on her, that’s how you know she’s dead because someone pissed on her.”
Community members stood outside the court and cheered when a guilty verdict was given.
One community member in particular, Rebecca Mikesell, commented that she is relieved that justice was served for the victim.
“Justice has been done in a very difficult case that I wasn’t sure would go the right way. The victim was very brave to speak up about this and it’s been important for her to know she was supported. Rape is not just the stranger dragging someone into a dark alley.”
After the guilty verdict was handed down two girls, aged 15 and 16, were charged with sending threats to the victim via Twitter posts.
One message, sent by the 16-year-old, stated, “You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you b— it’s gone be a homicide.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released a statement saying: “Let me be clear, threatening a teenage rape victim will not be tolerated. If anyone makes a threat verbally or via the Internet, we will take it seriously, we will find you, and we will arrest you.”