Convicted ex-high school athlete wants off sex offender list

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A judge will decide whether a man convicted as a juvenile of raping a 16-year-old girl during an alcohol-fueled party should be removed from Ohio's sex offender listings, as allowed by law.

Judge Thomas Lipps scheduled a hearing Thursday in juvenile court in Steubenville in the case of former high school football player Ma'Lik Richmond.

Richmond, now 21, was convicted in 2013 of raping the West Virginia girl at a party that followed a football scrimmage the previous year. He served a one-year sentence and later rejoined the Steubenville football team. He went on to play at Youngstown State University.

After his conviction, Richmond was ordered to register his address every six months for the next 20 years. In 2014, Lipps agreed to reclassify him so that he has to register only once a year for the next decade.

Ohio law allows juveniles to request removal altogether. Richmond's public defender declined to comment ahead of the hearing. The state opposes the request.

A second juvenile convicted in the crime served a two-year sentence. His attorneys plan a similar request in the future.

The 2012 case drew international attention because of the role of social media publicizing the assault, and initial allegations of a cover-up by local authorities and frustration that more football players weren't charged, including some who witnessed the assaults.

Richmond was released from prison in January 2014 and attended colleges in West Virginia and Pennsylvania before transferring to Youngstown State in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore.

Last year, Youngstown State sidelined Richmond after getting backlash about him playing football. After Richmond sued, a settlement with the university allowed him to stay on the active roster. Richmond is currently a student and a football player, Youngstown State spokesman Ron Cole said Monday.

As that controversy played out, Richmond's father, Nathaniel Richmond, was killed in August 2017 in an unrelated confrontation when he shot a judge in a courthouse parking lot and a probation officer returned fire. The judge had been overseeing a wrongful death lawsuit the father filed against a housing authority.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

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