Ma'Lik Richmond, second teen in Steubenville rape case, set for hearing

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The second former Steubenville High School football player convicted in the August 2012 rape of a West Virginia girl is scheduled to be classified as a sex offender today.

The hearing for Ma'Lik Richmond, 17, is planned in Jefferson County Juvenile Court, where visiting Judge Thomas Lipps presided over the same proceeding for the case's other defendant, Trent Mays, 17, in June.

In March, the judge found both teens responsible for the rape of the 16-year-old during a party Aug. 11-12, 2012. Trent was sentenced to at least two years in a juvenile facility because he was convicted of the rape and of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Ma'Lik was sentenced to at least a year for the rape.

Today's hearing is expected to advance despite efforts from Ma'Lik's attorney, Walter Madison, asking Judge Lipps to not classify him as a sex offender.

In a motion, Mr. Madison said such a hearing violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, noting sex offender registration is punitive. In response, Judge Lipps wrote that state appellate courts and the Ohio Supreme Court have ruled the sexual classification system for both adults and juveniles is not "unconstitutional as a whole."

The attorney said holding a classification hearing also amounts to double jeopardy, but Judge Lipps overturned that, saying Ma'Lik had "no legitimate expectation of finality regarding his later classification."

Mr. Madison also argued that juvenile courts cannot have jurisdiction beyond age 21. Judge Lipps wrote that while that's true for most delinquency proceedings, the Ohio legislature allows juvenile sex offender classifications to extend beyond age 21.

Mr. Madison wrote that such a label would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The judge disagreed, saying as a juvenile, Ma'Lik is exempt from many of the registration requirements of adult offenders, is allowed periodic review of registration duties and is not subject to Internet registration.

In a separate -- and also unsuccessful -- attempt, Mr. Madison asked the court to close the hearing to the media.

At the hearing, Judge Lipps is expected to place Ma'Lik in one of three sex offender categories. In Ohio, the strictest requires the offender verify his address with the sheriff in the county where he lives every three months for life. The least severe would require the same procedure, but only once a year for 10 years.

Judge Lipps in June placed Trent Mays between those categories, Tier II, which requires him to verify his address every six months for the next two decades.

Their names, however, will not appear on any sex offender websites, and at the time of release, they can petition the court to reduce the classification.

Once he is classified, Ma'Lik is expected to transfer from a state juvenile detention facility to a residential rehabilitation center with a program for sex offenders.

The special grand jury reconvened earlier this week to investigate whether additional crimes were committed. Jurors have met eight days -- nine including the day they were seated and organized -- since Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine empaneled them in April.




Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Ma'Lik Richmond's age. He is 17. (Published Aug. 16, 2013)

region

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.


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