Ma’lik Richmond, one of the two young football players who was found “delinquent” of having raped a young girl in Steubenville, OH, last year, has been freed from his sentence at a juvenile detention facility. Though the sentence was supposed to carry a minimum of one year in detention, Richmond got out early on good behavior. He served nine months.
Over the course of the trial last Spring, Richmond was portrayed by the media as a sympathetic character — a boy whose “life had read like a script from the movie ‘The Blind Side,’” according to one flattering ABC profile, and was now ruined. At the time, Richmond’s lawyer, Walter Madison, played up the sympathetic aspect as well, stressing that Richmond struggled in his home life and that a conviction would make him have to answer “at 75 years old… for something they did at 16 when scientific evidence would support your brain isn’t fully developed.”
Upon his release Sunday, Richmond’s lawyer again put out a statement asking for sympathy and stressing how much Richmond’s life had been altered. “The past sixteen months have been extremely challenging for Ma’Lik and his extended family,” Madison said. “At sixteen years old, Ma’Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagine for any adult yet alone child. He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life.”
The statement did not mention the rape victim.
Now that he is free, Richmond will need to register as a sex offender every six months for the next 20 years. His name will not be on public records of sex offenders, since he received the verdict as a juvenile. With rehabilitation, he has the possibility of getting his time on the registry shortened.
Richmond’s life may have been changed by a guilty verdict, but that doesn’t mean it was ruined. Statistically, according to the Campaign for Youth Justice, youth sex offenders like Ma’lik Richmond are actually fairly unlikely to re-offend, compared both to adult sex offenders and to other juveniles who have committed a crime. Juvenile sex offenders re-offend somewhere between 5 and 14 percent of the time, while recidivism rates for other juvenile crimes stand at 8-58 percent.
The Steubenville rape case is far from over. Trent Mays, Richmond’s accomplice in the rape, remains in detention where he is serving a two year sentence. And several adults are also now under investigation or have been arrested for helping to cover up the assault.