Two teenage girls accused of threatening Steubenville rape victim

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Images and social media messages are at the heart of criminal charges against two Steubenville high school football players accused of sexually assaulting an underage teenage girl during a series of end-of-summer parties in August.

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(CNN) — Two 16-year-old females are in custody, suspected of making threats via Twitter against the victim in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Monday.

The sheriff said one threat was to “beat her ass, ” while the other promised to kill the rape victim. Both teen suspects are Steubenville residents, he said.

After an often graphic four-day trial that focused heavily on texts, photos and videos collected from teenagers’ cell phones, visiting Judge Thomas Lipps on Sunday convicted the two boys accused of rape in the case: Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16.
The case of the two high school football players attracted the attention of bloggers — and even the loosely organized hacking group, Anonymous — who questioned everything from the behavior of the football team to the integrity of the investigation.

Lipps announced his decision after reviewing evidence presented over four days of testimony in the case against Mays and Richmond, who were tried as juveniles.

Mays was also found guilty of disseminating a nude photo of a minor.

The ruling brings an end to a trial that gained media attention for its lurid text messages, cell phone pictures and videos, and social media posts surrounding the sexual abuse of the girl.

The victim was not in the courtroom when the ruling was read, but her mother gave a statement after the judge’s ruling.

“Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us,” the victim’s mother said after court was adjourned. “You displayed not only a lack of this compassion, but a lack of any moral code.”

The woman said her daughter will persevere and move on, adding that she has pity for Mays and Richmond.

Bob Fitzsimmons, the attorney for the girl, said his client was doing well.

“I think she’s really happy that this is over and, remember, she is a 16-year-old girl still and she’s a high school student,” he said. “She just wants to get back with her normal life, as does the family. It is a big relief to her at this point.”

He wouldn’t comment when asked if the girl and her family plan to file a civil case.

Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a juvenile correctional facility. Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year, but like Mays, he could be in detention until he is 21.

The Department of Youth Services will rule whether the two boys will be detained longer, Lipps said, adding it will depend on their behavior and rehabilitation.

The two will be required to register as sex offenders and undergo treatment while in detention. Lipps said he would postpone a hearing into which sexual offender registration category they will be classified until the end of their incarceration.

Mays and Richmond, who will be credited for the time they served before the trial, were also ordered to stay away from the victim until they are 21.

Richmond’s father told CNN that his son was doing OK.

“I told Ma’lik to put all his trust in God. God will see him through this,” Nate Richmond said. “I told him that I love him, basically. And to be strong.”

In court, Ma’lik Richmond apologized before breaking down in tears.

“I had no intention to do anything like that,” he said. “And I’m sorry to put you guys through this.”

Mays apologized to the families involved.

“No pictures should have been sent out, let alone been taken,” he said.

Mays and Richmond were tried before Lipps, a visiting judge, without a jury. The trial moved quickly — and through the weekend — to accommodate the judge’s schedule.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said more charges in the case could be forthcoming.

After the convictions, DeWine said he is asking the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court to convene a grand jury on April 15. DeWine said that while calling a grand jury does not mean indictments will be returned or charges filed, “this community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth.”

He said there were 16 people who had refused to talk to investigators.

He called the case a tragedy made even worse because the victim was revictimized through social media.

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