Judge in Steubenville Will Wait to Decide Richmond’s Status

FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2017, file photo, Ma'lik Richmond, center, of Steubenville, Ohio, and his attorney Susan Stone, left, walk out of U.S. District Court in Youngstown, Ohio. An Ohio judge has scheduled a Thursday, April 19, 2018, hearing about whether Richmond, a high school and college football player convicted as a juvenile of raping a 16-year-old girl during an alcohol-fueled party, should be removed from the state's sex offender listings. (AP Photo/Dake Kang, File)

STEUBENVILLE — Ma’Lik Richmond will have to wait nearly a month to find out if he will be removed from a sex offender registry.

Visiting Judge Thomas Lipps took under advisement a decision that could lift the reporting requirements for Richmond, convicted five years ago as a juvenile in a Steubenville rape case.

Richmond, 21, and his attorneys with the state public defender’s office, asked Lipps, who has presided over the case since the early stages, to remove the reporting mandate.

Richmond was convicted in March 2013 along with co-defendant Trent Mays, 22, of raping a female juvenile from Weirton in August 2012 following alcohol-fueled parties.

Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a Department of Youth Services facility. Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year in a state youth detention center.

Lipps originally determined Richmond and Mays to be Tier II sex offenders, which required them to report their address to the county sheriff every six months for 20 years. Lipps lowered the classification for Richmond and Mays to a Tier I offender, requiring them to report their address to the sheriff once a year for 10 years.

Mays can ask for the same consideration later this year.

Angela Canepa, special prosecutor with the state attorney general’s office, opposed the request, arguing the nature of the offense and the need for public safety warranted the reporting mandate.

Tom Gazley, a psychologist who has assessed Richmond in the past, said Richmond is a low risk for repeating the offense. Canepa pointed out the difference between no risk and low risk. Gazley said a sexual offender’s chances of committing another sex crime decreases over time.

Gazley said Richmond did well with grades in high school and in his college classes at Youngstown State University.

He said Richmond has taken responsibility for his actions, and went through the juvenile rehabilitation process not angry, unlike some offenders. He also said Richmond will have to stay away from situations that could cause him to re-offend, such as alcohol-fueled parties.

Gazley’s report is just one of the factors Lipps said he will consider when making a ruling, which is expected in about three weeks.

Attorney Brooke Burns, of the state public defender’s office, said the state department of youth services noted Richmond’s exemplary behavior when incarcerated and his academic mentoring of other youth at the facility. She said Richmond has done everything required by the court.

“Ma’Lik has demonstrated his commitment to rehabilitation and following the court’s orders,” she said.

Canepa said the state believes in second chances for offenders and the rehabilitation of juveniles, but the public needs to be protected by requiring Richmond to register as a sexual offender. She said the juvenile sexual offender registry is not public but the media coverage available on the Internet makes his offender status known to the public.

She said the nature of the offense is reprehensible because a girl who was passed out from alcohol had no ability to resist. She said the sexual reporting requirement is the last oversight that can be provided for Richmond.