Ma’Lik Richmond, the Steubenville High School wide receiver found delinquent of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl in 2012 with quarterback Trent Mays, has returned to his team roster as a senior, local station WTRF reported Monday.
“I wanted to be shocked, but I think we all knew it was bound to happen,” Alexandria Goddard said in an email to BuzzFeed. Goddard is the writer widely credited with bringing national attention to the rape by exposing students’ tweets documenting and discussing the attack.
In March 2013, Richmond was sentenced to one year in a juvenile detention facility but was released in January 2014; Mays was sentenced to two years and is still under detention. Their classification — Ohio’s Tier II — requires Richmond and Mays to register as sex offenders every 180 days for 20 years.
“Steubenville City Schools hasn’t really done a lot in the past two years to prove to the world that they don’t tolerate rape culture and allowing a Tier II registered sex offender on the team pretty much solidifies the assumption that they are concerned about wins rather than the safety of young girls or the destruction of rape culture in their area,” Goddard continued.
When Richmond was released from detention, his attorney said he was “a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family.” At the time, an attorney for the victim called the statement’s failure to acknowledge the girl or her family “disheartening.”
While Steubenville’s football coach didn’t respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment, he did speak to Fox 28 about the decision.
“Everything the judicial system of Ohio asked him to do he completed. Everything that the school system asked him to do upon his release he completed, both academically and socially,” Reno Saccoccia said. “I feel that we’re really not giving him a second chance. Some may look at it like that. I feel that he’s earned a second chance.”