A former eastern Ohio high school football player has been released from a juvenile detention center less than a year after his conviction for raping a 16-year-old girl following an alcohol-fueled party.
WTOV-TV in Steubenville reported Sunday evening that Ma'Lik Richmond had been released after the first of the year. His attorney, Walter Madison, issued a statement saying the youth is "braced for the balance of his life" and that he and his family are requesting privacy.
"While away, Ma'Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways," he said in the statement. "He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family."
Richmond was sentenced to one year in March 2013. A judge convicted him and fellow Steubenville High School student athlete Trent Mays of raping the West Virginia girl in August 2012. Mays also was convicted of using his phone to take a naked picture of the underage girl. He was sentenced to two years.
Asked for comment, the attorney for the girl, Bob Fitzsimmons, said in a statement Monday it was "disheartening" that there was no mention of her or her family in the statement made on Richmond's behalf.
"One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself," Fitzsimmons said. "Rape is about victims, not defendants."
Madison didn't immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office said he had no comment on Richmond.
Jefferson County Judge Thomas Lipps last August gave Richmond Ohio's second-toughest sex offender classification, the same as Mays had received. Richmond must register as a sex offender every six months for 20 years. However, he can request to have the classification removed later based on rehabilitation history, and his name won't be included on publicly accessible websites. Richmond was 16 at the time of the rape.
The case drew wide attention amid allegations of a cover-up to protect the celebrated Steubenville High School football team. Hacker activists helped propel coverage of the rape case and press allegations of a cover-up, including their reposting of a 12-minute Internet video made within hours of the attacks in which a former Steubenville student jokes about the victim and the attack.
DeWine convened a grand jury last year to look into possible related crimes, resulting in charges against six people. The Steubenville school district's former technology director faces a late February trial on charges he misled investigators. He and other school officials charged have pleaded not guilty.