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Published: Friday, 6/14/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Ohio football rape case grand jury postponed

One player, convicted of raping girl, classified as sex offender


COLUMBUS — A grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in an Ohio rape case won’t meet next week as scheduled.

The eastern Ohio panel looking into whether some adults failed to report the August rape early on has been on hiatus since last month.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio attorney general’s office, said without explanation Friday that the grand jury won’t meet as expected Monday.

Attorney General Mike DeWine convened the grand jury March 17, hours after a judge convicted two Steubenville high school football players of raping a 16-year-old girl after a party.

Evidence introduced at the five-day trial suggested the head high school football coach may have known about the attack soon after it happened but failed to report it.

A high school football player convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl was given the state’s second-toughest sex offender classification at a Friday hearing.

The decision by Judge Thomas Lipps at Jefferson County Juvenile Court in Steubenville means Trent Mays could have to report to a local sheriff every six months for 10 years.

Unlike adult sex offenders, however, Mays’ name won’t be included on publicly accessible websites. And he can request to have the sex offender classification removed later based on his history of rehabilitation.

Lipps on Friday also agreed with a request from Mays’ attorneys that the teen be transferred from Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility near Cleveland to a southern Ohio facility that works with sex offenders.

One of Mays’ attorneys said after the hearing he will ask Lipps to release Mays from state custody if he successfully completes the program at Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in Chillicothe.

That would be a departure from the two-year sentence that Lipps handed Mays in March when he convicted the teen of raping the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled house party last summer. Mays, 17, also was convicted of using his phone to take a photo of the naked underage girl.

“The whole purpose of the juvenile system is rehabilitation,” Columbus defense attorney Adam Nemann said Friday. “If he’s in compliance and does everything he’s asked to do, as a juvenile he ought to be returned to his family and attempt to piece his life back together.”

Mays has been a model inmate at Cuyahoga Hills, Nemann said.

Messages seeking comment about the possibility of an early release were left with the attorney for the victim and her family.

Lipps had been scheduled to hold hearings for both of the two players he convicted of rape in March. He canceled the hearing for defendant Ma’Lik Richmond after the teen’s lawyer filed motions ahead of Friday’s court appearance.

Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, declined to comment Friday on the nature of the motions, which were sealed.

Richmond was sentenced to at least one year for raping the girl.

The case drew international attention because of the role of texting and social media in exposing the attack. A grand jury is considering whether other people broke the law in connection with the case by not alerting authorities to initial reports of the rape.

At the time of their conviction and sentencing in March, Lipps recommended the boys be assigned to the Paint Creek facility, which he said has a strong program for treating juvenile sex offenders.

The privately-operated center is an open campus where staff members rely on their relationship with residents to prevent escapes, according to the Department of Youth Services.

Staff and children live together at the facility, which has shown success in keeping teens treated there from committing new crimes.

Youth Services and Paint Creek still have to agree to take Mays, DYS spokeswoman Kim Parsell said Friday.

Both Paint Creek and state officials conduct face-to-face meetings with young people and review their records in state facilities whenever determining placement.

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