A Steubenville High School football player convicted of raping a West Virginia teenager last summer will be classified as a sex offender at a hearing today that could also decide if he will be transferred to another facility for treatment.
Hearings for both Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'Lik Richmond, 16, were scheduled for this morning in Jefferson County juvenile court in Steubenville. But visiting Judge Thomas Lipps canceled Ma'Lik's hearing, according to the Ohio attorney general's office.
That office would not say why the judge, who could not be reached, canceled the proceeding. Ma'Lik's attorney Walter Madison declined comment.
In March, the teens were adjudicated delinquent, the equivalent of a guilty verdict, in the rape of a 16-year-old Weirton girl at a party last August. Ma'Lik was sentenced to at least a year in a juvenile facility. Trent's minimum sentence was longer, at least two years, as he was also convicted of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
The court has said it intends to approve, for both teens, a transfer from a state juvenile detention center to Lifehouse Youth Center at Paint Creek, a facility in Bainbridge, Ohio, which Judge Lipps suggested at their dispositional hearing.
Before the move, Trent must be classified into one of three sex-offender categories. The court could decide he must register every three months for life; or it could place him in two other levels, in which he registers every six months for 20 years; or, the least severe category, every year for a decade.
His name won't be included in any online publicly accessible sex offender registry, however, as is the case for adults, and he eventually may petition the court to reduce or remove the classification.
The private residential rehabilitation center for boys near Chillicothe has no bars, high fences or locked doors, and a 24-hour staff calls teenagers "clients" not "inmates," said Renee Hagan, the center's juvenile justice director.
"We don't have this correctional-mentality relationship with kids," she said.
Jefferson County juvenile court said in a statement that the facility's approach to treatment with sex offenders is superior to other Ohio Department of Youth Services placements. Starting in late 1990s, Ms. Hagan noted, the center increased its sex offender services and training opportunities for staff.
The facility conducts face-to-face screening with potential clients and reviews their case history in considering placement, she said.
Trent and Ma'Lik are currently at the Cuyahoga Boys School institution and are reported to be behaving well there, according to the juvenile court's statement.
Attorney Brian Duncan said both Trent and his family welcome the opportunity for the transfer.
"We believe the facility will be very beneficial to his overall development, and he looks forward to following the rules and displaying to the community at large that he has been rehabilitated," Mr. Duncan said.
In related news, the special grand jury empaneled in April is expected to reconvene Monday to investigate whether others should be charged in connection with the rape.
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.