Attorneys comment on release of Ma’Lik Richmond

STEUBENVILLE – Two attorneys in the Steubenville rape case have released statements – one about a defendant being released after serving his time and the other from the victim’s side.

Ma’Lik Richmond, 17, one of two juveniles convicted in the Steubenville rape case in March, has been released from an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility.

Richmond and Trent Mays, 17, were found guilty in March of rape in connection with an incident involving an underage girl that occured on Aug. 11-12, 2012. Mays also was found guilty of a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

Visiting Judge Tom Lipps sentenced Richmond and Mays to spend at least one year in an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility, or until they became 21 years old. He ordered Mays to spend another year in the youth center for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Richmond was classified by Lipps as a Tier II sex offender in August and will be required to report to the county sheriff where he is living every six months for the next 20 years. Lipps in June ruled that Mays also is a Tier II sex offender.

Attorney Walter Madison, who represented Richmond during the trial, released a statement on behalf of Richmond’s family.

“The past 16 months have been extremely challenging for Ma’Lik and his extended family. At 16 years old, Ma’Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagination 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.

“As with each other obstacle, Ma’Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life.

“While away, Ma’Lik has reflected, learned, matured and grown in many ways. He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life and spending time with family. At this point, Ma’Lik wants most to be a high school teenager.”

The statement went on to state Richmond, his family and guardians ask the media respect their privacy as “we all need to heal and move on with our lives.

“We will have you know that Ma’Lik will be taking all the time necessary to focus on his academic and personal goals. We ask for your support and prayers as we more forward,” the statement said.

Attorney Bob Fitzsimmons is representing the female victim and her family in the case. He was present for the entire trial in juvenile court.

Fitzsimmons released a prepared statement in response to the Richmond release.

“Although everyone hopes convicted criminals are rehabilitated, it is disheartening that this convicted rapist’s press release does not make a single reference to the victim and her family-whom he and his co-defendant scarred for life. One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself. Rape is about victims, not defendants. Obviously, the people writing his press release have yet to learn this important lesson,” the statement stated.