Steubenville Ohio school footballers guilty of rape

  • Published
Trent Mays (l) and Ma'lik Richmond in court, 15 March 2013
Image caption,
Some locals said members of the football team thought they were above the law

Two high school football players in the US state of Ohio have been found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl.

Trent Mays, 16, and Ma'lik Richmond, 17, attacked the girl after a drunken party in the town of Steubenville. Both wept as the verdict was read out.

The case came to light via text messages, online videos and social media posts made the morning after, attracting nationwide attention.

The two were sentenced to at least a year in juvenile detention.

Mays was sentenced to another year for taking pictures of the naked victim, and the judge said both might stay in detention until they reach 21.

The case was thrust into the national spotlight after attention by bloggers and the hacker activist group Anonymous.

Some claimed that the community - including local police - had sought to cover up the crime to protect the accused, who were members of a celebrated high school American football team.

Image caption,
Online activists brought the case to national attention amid allegations of a cover-up

The case focused attention on teenage alcohol abuse and highlighted the increasing use of social media as evidence in court, the BBC's Matt Wells in Washington says.

Last August, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond left a party with a 16-year-old girl and sexually abused her, first in a car and then at a friend's house.

The victim was so drunk she had no memory of the attack, but prosecutors said she had been "treated like a toy".

There was no physical evidence, but details of the evening emerged from text messages, tweets and humiliating photos posted on the internet by the attackers and other party-goers.

The case caused a bitter divide in Steubenville, a small and economically depressed former steel town that had immense pride in its high school football team, known as the "Big Red".

Some of the witnesses were friends of the accused who gave evidence against them in return for immunity from prosecution.