STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A Steubenville High School football player convicted of raping a West Virginia teen last summer will be classified as a sex offender at a hearing today that could also decide if he will be transferred to another facility for treatment.
Hearings for Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, were set for this morning in Jefferson County juvenile court in Steubenville. But visiting Judge Thomas Lipps canceled the younger teen’s hearing, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
That office would not say why the judge, who could not be reached, canceled the proceeding. Richmond’s attorney Walter Madison declined comment.
In March, the teens were judged delinquent, the equivalent of a guilty verdict, in the rape of a 16-year-old Weirton girl at a party last August. Richmond was sentenced to at least a year in a juvenile facility. Mays’ minimum sentence was longer, at least two years, as he was also convicted of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
The court has said it intends to approve, for both teens, a transfer from a state juvenile detention center to Lifehouse Youth Center at Paint Creek in southcentral Ohio’s Bainbridge, which Judge Lipps suggested at their dispositional hearing.
Before the move, Mays must be classified into one of three sex-offender categories. The court could decide he must register every three months for life; or it could place him in two other levels, in which he registers every six months for 20 years, or, the least severe category, annually for a decade.
His name won’t be in online, publicly accessible, sex-offender registries, however, as is the case for adults, and he eventually may petition the court to reduce or remove the classification.
The private residential rehabilitation center for boys has no bars, high fences, or locked doors, and a 24-hour staff calls teens “clients” not “inmates,” said Renee Hagan, the center’s juvenile justice director.
“We don’t have this correctional-mentality relationship with kids,” she said.
Jefferson County juvenile court said in a statement that the facility’s approach to treatment with sex offenders is superior to other Ohio Department of Youth Services institutions.
Starting in late 1990s, Ms. Hagan noted, the center increased its sex-offender services and training opportunities for staff.
The teens are now at the Cuyahoga Boys School institution. Attorney Brian Duncan said both Mays and his family welcome the transfer.
“We believe the facility will be very beneficial to his overall development, and he looks forward to following the rules and displaying to the community at large that he has been rehabilitated,” Mr. Duncan said.
In related news, the special grand jury empaneled in April is expected to reconvene Monday to investigate whether others should be charged in connection with the rape.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Molly Born is a writer for the Post-Gazette.