STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – The trial of two Ohio high school football players accused of raping a 16-year-old girl ended Saturday with the judge saying he would issue his verdict the next day.
Judge Thomas Lipps said he will announce his decision this morning after reviewing evidence presented over four days in the case against 17-year-old Trent Mays and 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond.
Defense attorneys argued the state didn’t prove their clients raped the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party last summer. But prosecutors said the evidence, including text messages, testimony and photographs, was overwhelming.
The 16-year-old girl testified she was drinking that night and couldn’t remember what happened. She said she woke up naked in a strange house after leaving the party with Mays.
If found delinquent, the two could be held in juvenile jail until they turn 21.
Mays and Richmond are charged with digitally penetrating the accuser, first in a car and then in the basement of a house, while out partying Aug. 12. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
The case has riveted the small city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.
The girl took the stand Saturday in the nonjury trial and said she remembers drinking at a party last August, leaving the party holding hands with Mays, then throwing up later. The next thing she remembers is waking up with no clothes on in a strange house.
It was really scary, really scary, she said. I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything.
She recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.
They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me, she testified. I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video.
She said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself and a video made that night. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn’t explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.
Earlier Saturday, defense attorneys went after the character and credibility of the alleged victim, calling witnesses to the stand to accommodate their schedule, although the prosecution had not yet rested. Two former friends of the girl testified that the accuser had a history of drinking heavily and was known to lie about things.
The accuser said in her later testimony that she does not remember making that statement, nor being photographed as she was carried by Mays and Richmond, an image that stirred up the community as it spread on social media sites. Others have testified the photo was a joke and the girl was conscious when it was taken.