After nine months in a Ohio juvenile detention facility, Ma’lik Richmond, one of two Steubenville teens found “delinquent” of raping a 16-year-old girl in August 2012, has been released. He was initially sentenced to one year.
In a statement released by his attorney, Walter Madison, he expresses how “extremely challenging” the past 16 months have been for his client:
At sixteen years old, Ma'Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagine for any adult yet alone child. He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life. As with each other obstacle, Ma'Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin, and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life. While away, Ma'Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways. He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family. At this point, Ma'Lik wants most to be a high school teenager. In conjunction with his release, Ma'Lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, as we all need to heal and move on with our lives. We will have you know that Ma'Lik will be taking all the time necessary to focus on his academic and personal goals. We ask for your support and prayers as we move forward, Thank you.
The victim’s attorney, Robert Fitzsimmons, released this statement on her and her family’s behalf Sunday night:
Although everyone hopes convicted criminals are rehabilitated, it is disheartening that this convicted rapist's press release does not make a single reference to the victim and her family—whom he and his co-defendant scarred for life. One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself. Rape is about victims, not defendants. Obviously, the people writing his press release have yet to learn this important lesson.
Richmond and codefendant Trent Mays were both found “delinquent” of raping the girl in March 2013. In November, four school officials were indicted for their role in covering up evidence, including Steubenville High School’s superintendent Michael McVey. Anonymous also got involved in the case before the trial, via the hashtag #OpRollRedRoll, and released footage from the night of the assault.
After the guilty verdict, many news outlets focused on the two young men and how their lives would be affected. And that’s the narrative Richmond’s legal team wants to continue. He’ll have to register as sex offender every six months for the next 20 years, but his name will not show up in public records because he was a juvenile when convicted. It’s obvious from the statement, which made no mention of the victim whose life he and Mays altered forever, that he hasn’t “matured” or “learned” that much.
By the looks of this Facebook page, many residents of Steubenville still stand by their boys. And continue to treat their charges like a joke.
The trial is far from over, however.
Photo via musashi2000/Flickr