Two US teenagers were found guilty on Sunday of raping a fellow high-school student — a case made notorious when a video of boys laughing about the assault on the “dead” drunk girl went viral.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, both high-school football players in the Ohio town of Steubenville, broke down when they heard the verdict: “delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt” on all counts.
Further charges may be brought against other people involved in the incident, which continued well after the assault on Aug. 11 last year as pictures and videos were shared via text message and uploaded to social media sites like Facebook.
“Many of the things that we learned during this trial that our children were saying and doing were profane, were ugly,” Judge Thomas Lipps said.
In one video, students laughed about watching the rape, saying the girl “deserved to be peed on.”
Other videos and photographs showed Mays and Richmond lifting the unconscious and nearly naked girl by her hands and feet.
Because they were tried as juveniles, the judge determined the verdict and the sentence, which the boys began serving immediately.
Richmond must serve a minimum of one year in a juvenile rehabilitation facility and can be held until he turns 21, while Mays, charged with a second crime of “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material,” was sentenced to a minimum of two years and can be held until he turns 24.
They both apologized in court to the victim, her family and the community. Richmond said they had “no intentions” to commit the crimes and Mays said “those pictures shouldn’t have been sent around, let alone even taken.”
Richmond’s father also apologized and asked for forgiveness for the boys for what he called “a terrible mistake.”
The 16-year-old victim was not in the room, but her mother addressed the court, telling the boys:
“You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. I have pity for you both.”
The girl’s lawyer, Bob Fitzsimmons, told CNN she was “doing well.”
The case has raised awareness of social media and cyberbullying, as sexually explicit pictures and videos can spread like wildfire with the click of a mouse. One in six US children aged 12 to 17 have received a sexually suggestive photo or video of someone they know, a study by the Pew Research Center found.