STEUBENVILLE - Parents were the focus of a two-hour Jefferson County juvenile court hearing Thursday that resulted in two Steubenville High School student-athletes charged with rape having their cases remain in the juvenile system.
Visiting Judge Tom Lipps also released the juveniles from the detention center on house arrest.
Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville are charged with rape. Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
JUVENILE?HEARING — Visiting Judge Tom Lipps listened to testimony Thursday in Jefferson County Juvenile Court in the case of two Steubenville High School student-athletes who are charged with rape. Lipps ruled the defendants will remain in the juvenile court system and were released from the detention center on house arrest.
The alleged rape occurred during the overnight hours of Aug. 11-12 and involved a girl who witnesses said was highly intoxicated.
The next step in the proceedings is a pretrial hearing scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 14, followed by a trial.
Richmond is being represented by attorney Walter Madison, and Mays is being represented by attorney Adam Nemann of Columbus.
The prosecution is represented by Assistant Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Brumby, both with the Ohio Attorney General's Crimes Against Children unit.
The victim's mother was called by the prosecution, and she said her daughter is humiliated by what happened.
"She stays in her room a lot and doesn't want to go to school," the mother said of her daughter.
The daughter doesn't sleep much and the mother said she hears her crying at night. The mother said there have been threats made toward the family, and a police office is in her neighborhood everyday.
The mother also said her daughter has been ostracized by her friends and their parents who don't want their kids around her.
Lipps asked her if the juveniles charged should be tried as adults or remain in juvenile court.
"I thought about it over a million times, and I leave it in God's hands," the mother said.
Daphne Birden, Richmond's mother, said she allowed Greg and Jennifer Agresta to assume guardianship of her son because of medical conditions when Richmond was about 8 years old. She said Richmond "came out" and started talking more to people when he lived with the Agrestas. She said she wanted her son to remain in the juvenile court system.
Nate Richmond, the father, said his son is not selfish and has compassion and character.
Nate Richmond said he believes Malik is still a kid but will be able to adapt to the programs that are available to him through the juvenile court system if he is found guilty.
Jennifer Agresta said Malik came from an at-risk home situation. She described him as a kid who was much more mature at age 8 than most kids his age.
"Malik is a special individual who has so many promising characteristics. He is kind, compassionate and loving. He wants something more for himself but he takes a lot of pride of where he came from," Agresta said.
She also believes Malik will respond favorably to juvenile court programs for rehabilitation if he is found guilty.
Linda Mays, Trent's mother, presented the judge with about 50 letters written by people in support of her son. She said Trent always has been a good student and was currently in the scholars program at the high school. She said he has never been in trouble in or out of school.
She said the family is devastated about what happened and their son's arrest.
"I am not able to sleep. He got taken away from us in the middle of the night. I wake up every night and he isn't there," she said.
She added that her son should be treated as a juvenile.
Brian Mays, the father, said he talked to his son about the allegation, and his son has always been straight forward and hasn't changed his story. Lipps cautioned the father he didn't want to hear what was said.
The father said his son should remain in the juvenile system if found guilty.
Michael Haney, a Big Red varsity basketball coach, said Malik has exceptional talent as a basketball player and, as a freshman, was named to the first-team all district squad. Malik also was ranked in the top 100 high-school basketball players in the state.
Reno Saccoccia, Big Red football coach, said Malik was only on the varsity team for about four months. He said Malik had a lot of adversity growing up and said Malik's character was more developed than other sophomores on the team.
Saccoccia said he didn't know that several members of the football team were drinking at parties the night of the incident.
Brumby said everyone who testified said the juveniles charged are good students and athletes, but she said they had every available resource.
"They knew better than to treat a girl as they did," Brumby said.
She said the juveniles didn't stand up for the victim who was intoxicated and passed out.
"Instead of helping her, they sexually assaulted her," Brumby said, adding they proceeded to humiliate her by sending naked pictures of her. "That takes the crime to a whole new level."
Madison said Malik Richmond deserves the opportunity and rehabilitative services of juvenile court if found guilty. Nemann said, "Across the board, nothing has been presented that is indicative that these young men should be treated as adults."
Lipps said he believed the juveniles are mature enough for the case to be transferred to adult court. But, he said, weighing all the factors, the juveniles charged should remain in the juvenile court system.
Lipps released Mays to his parents and Richmond to the Agrestas.
Both juveniles will be on electronically monitored house arrest and only allowed to leave the home for school and church. Richmond and Mays will attend the juvenile court alternative school. Lipps said he didn't want the juveniles to have contact with fellow students what have testified or may testify in the future.
The juveniles also were ordered not to have contact with the victim.
(Law can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)