STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Two Steubenville High School students were convicted today of raping a 16-year-old girl during a drunken night of partying in August.
It is a case that has divided the Ohio River town and thrust it into the international spotlight.
Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced Malik Richmond, 16, to at least a year in a juvenile facility and Trent Mays, 17, to at least two years. Both may be detained until they are 21, depending on their progress in juvenile detention, Judge Lipps said.
The teens, players on the high school's championship-winning football team, sobbed and hugged their family members and attorneys as the verdicts were read.
Both teens were given an opportunity to speak.
"I would truly like to apologize. No pictures should have been sent around, let alone taken," Mr. Mays said.
Mr. Richmond walked across the courtroom toward the victim's family but collapsed, sobbing, into the arms of the chief probation officer.
He apologized several times but his sobs rendered the apologies virtually incoherent.
The judge's decision, comparable to a guilty verdict in adult criminal court, follows four days of testimony in a nonjury trial that attracted national and international media outlets to the economically depressed former steel town of 19,000. It is located 40 miles west of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Mays and Mr. Richmond each was accused of rape for penetrating the girl with their fingers and also were charged with other inappropriate sexual acts. The defense did not dispute that sexual contact took place, but argued the evidence did not support rape charges. Although the girl's name has been made public, the Post-Gazette does not identify accusers in sex crimes. The girl resides in Weirton, W.Va.
After prosecutors granted immunity to certain witnesses, some in the community were outraged other teens present that night weren't facing charges.
During a press conference following the verdicts, Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a grand jury would be empaneled in mid-April. He said 16 people refused to be interviewed during the state's initial investigation.
"The community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth," he said.
The case attracted widespread attention partly because details first emerged outside the courtroom on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Some who attended the Aug. 11 party took cell phone pictures and videos of the assault and wrote about it in text messages to each other and on social media platforms.
Bloggers and hacker-activist groups like Anonymous posted some of the photos of the girl and criticized local authorities for initial inaction.
Special prosecutors from the state attorney general's office and Judge Lipps, from Hamilton County, were brought in after some local officials recused themselves for conflicts of interest.
The judge ordered the defendants to be taken immediately to the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility north of Columbus, where they will undergo an assessment.
Block News Alliance consist of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mark Belko is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.