STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — The second former Steubenville High School football player convicted in the August, 2012, rape of a West Virginia girl is to be classified as a sex offender today.
The hearing for Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, is planned in Jefferson County Juvenile Court, where visiting Judge Thomas Lipps presided over the same proceeding for the case’s other defendant, Trent Mays, 17, in June.
In March, the judge found both teens responsible for the rape of the 16-year-old. Mays was sentenced to at least two years in a juvenile facility because he was convicted of the rape and of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Richmond was sentenced to at least a year for the rape.
Today’s hearing is expected to advance despite efforts from Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, asking Judge Lipps to not classify him as a sex offender.
In a motion, Mr. Madison said such a hearing violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, noting sex offender registration is punitive. In response, Judge Lipps wrote that state appellate courts and the Ohio Supreme Court have ruled sexual classification is not “unconstitutional as a whole.”
The attorney said holding a classification hearing is double jeopardy, but Judge Lipps overturned that.
Mr. Madison also argued that juvenile courts cannot have jurisdiction beyond age 21. Judge Lipps wrote that while that’s true for most delinquency proceedings, the Ohio legislature allows juvenile sex offender classifications to extend beyond 21.
Mr. Madison wrote that such a label would be cruel and unusual punishment. The judge disagreed, saying as a juvenile, Richmond is exempt from many of the registration requirements of adult offenders, allowed periodic review of registration duties, and is not subject to Internet registration.
In a separate unsuccessful attempt, Mr. Madison asked the court to close the hearing to the media.
At the hearing, Judge Lipps is expected to place Richmond in one of three sex offender categories. In Ohio, the strictest requires the offender verify his address with the sheriff in the county where he lives every three months, for life. The least severe would require the same procedure, but only once a year for 10 years.
Judge Lipps in June placed Mays in Tier II, which requires him to verify his address every six months for the next two decades.
Their names, however, will not appear on sex offender Web sites, and upon release, they can petition to reduce the classification.
The special grand jury reconvened earlier this week to investigate whether additional crimes were committed. Jurors have met eight days — nine including the day they were seated and organized — since Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine empaneled them in April.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Molly Born is a reporter for the Post-Gazette. Contact Molly Born at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1944, or on Twitter @borntolede.
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