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Teen in Steubenville Rape Case Released from Custody

13-Jan-2014

Last week, one of two teens adjudicated delinquent for the sexual assault of an intoxicated 16-year-old was released from custody at a juvenile facility.

In March 2013, Ma'Lik Richmond was adjudicated delinquent, the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty verdict, and sentenced to one year in custody with credit for time served. 

Richmond, then 16, was charged along with another teen, Trent Mays, then 17, with digital penetration, a crime that is equivocal to rape under Ohio law. In Oklahoma, the offense would be charged as rape by instrumentation, which is prosecuted in the first degree if it involves serious bodily injury or a victim under the age of 14, or as second degree rape by instrumentation in all other cases. Read more about Oklahoma rape laws.

Mays, who was also adjudicated delinquent for distributing nude images of a minor for taking cell phone pictures of the victim, was sentenced to two years and remains in custody.

The case was highly controversial, with many in the town of Steubenville being accused of trying to cover up the offense, arguing with a "boys will be boys" mentality and focusing on the girl's extreme intoxication. When the images were distributed online, however, victims' rights advocates called for the prosecution of two young men who exploited a girl's inability to refuse consent.

In addition to being sentenced to a juvenile detention facility, both Richardson and Mays will be required to register as Tier II sex offenders. As Tier II offenders in Ohio, they will be required to register for 20 years; however their names will not be publicly listed on a sex offender registry database. In Oklahoma, Level 2 sex offenders must register every 6 months for 25 years. Here, rape by instrumentation is not a Level 2 offense--it is a Level 3 offense requiring lifetime registration.

Even though rape by instrumentation is a Level 3 sex offense, Oklahoma does not place minors adjudicated delinquent on the adult sex offender registry. Instead, it is one of only six states that have separate sex offender registries and requirements for adult and juvenile sex offenders. The state recognizes that juvenile and adult sex crimes often have vastly different motivations, and that the recidivism rate for juvenile sex offenders is drastically lower than an adult sex offender's risk of re-offending.

Still, not all juvenile sex offenders are adjudicated delinquent. Juvenile offenders aged 15, 16, and 17 who commit specific offenses are classified as youthful offenders. While a delinquent youth is released from juvenile custody at the completion of his or her sentence or shortly after he or she turns 18, a youthful offender begins his or her sentence in a juvenile facility and is transferred to a state prison to complete the sentence after reaching the age of 18. Learn more about whether a minor is charged as a juvenile, a youthful offender, or even an adult.



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