Ma'lik Richmond — one of the two high school football players found "delinquent" in the last year's horrific Steubenville rape case — has just been released from an Ohio juvenile detention center. In March, he was sentenced to a minimum of one year, contingent on "behavior and rehabilitation." He began serving his time on April 1, which was nine months ago.
At his sentencing, Richmond said, "My life is over." And now, a year minus three months later, his legal team still frames the mass outrage following media coverage of the rape and the subsequent conviction as a bit of harrowing adversity that the young man struggled through — with absolutely no mention of the victim. Upon Richmond's release, his lawyer Walter Madison released the following (heinously tone-deaf and barely literate) statement on his behalf:
Ma'Lik Richmond recently completed his designated time at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Facility. The past sixteen months have been extremely challenging for Ma'Lik and his extended family. At sixteen years old, Ma'Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagine 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. In conjunction with his release, Ma'Lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, 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 move forward, Thank you.
Nowhere in the statement did Madison mention the victim, nor did he mention the nature of the crime that caused so much "hardness beyond imagine" to befall poor Richmond. Raping an unconscious 16-year-old and videotaping the assault is not an "unfortunate set of circumstances." Being convicted of rape after raping someone is not something that just happens to an otherwise good person (and good football player!!!). The best way to show that Richmond has matured and learned as a result of his time in the juvenile facility is to indicate that he's taken responsibility for his actions. The statement should include, at the very least, an apology and an admission of wrong-doing. Instead, it simply re-circulates the baffling, deeply insulting logic that insists Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays are the real victims of the sexual assault they perpetrated.
In the words of Robert Fitzsimmons, the victim's attorney:
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.
Although Richmond's sentence is (prematurely) over, he still has to register as a sex offender every six months for the next twenty years — although, because he's not an adult, his name won't appear on publicly-accessible websites. In September, he appealed to have his sex-offender classification removed. And so Ma'lik Richmond continues to "heal and move on with [his] life."
Image via AP.