Judge orders YSU player off sex-offender list for juveniles

Staff/wire report


Youngstown State University football player Ma’Lik Richmond has been declassified as a sex offender, according to Jefferson County juvenile court records.

Richmond, now 21, was found delinquent in the sexual assault of a 16-year-old West Virginia girl as a high school football player in Steubenville in 2012. He served a one-year sentence and later rejoined the Steubenville football team. He went on to play at YSU.

After his conviction, Richmond was ordered to register his address every six months for the next 20 years.

But Judge Thomas Lipps on Friday ordered that he be removed from the state’s sex-offender registry for juveniles.

In 2014, Judge Lipps agreed to reclassify him so that he had to register only once a year for the next decade.

Ohio law allows juveniles to request removal altogether.

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

A message was left with Richmond’s attorney seeking comment.

In a November filing, state public defender Brooke Burns argued that Richmond had served his punishment, completed all sex-offender programming and is now a successful college student. He has a strong family support system and is hard-working and remorseful, the filing said.

Richmond’s “court history demonstrates his rehabilitation and commitment to leading an offense-free future,” Burns said Nov. 9.

Judge Lipps said Richmond did everything required of him, including registering with the sheriff’s office.

“He has demonstrated that he can live amongst society and no longer needs the supervision and restrictions necessary for juvenile sex-offender registrants,” the judge said.

The state wanted Richmond left on the registry, saying he tried to minimize his involvement in the crime. Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, declined to comment Friday.

The 2012 case drew international attention because of the role of social media played in publicizing the assault.

There also were 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 receiving backlash about having him on the team.

After Richmond sued, a settlement with the university allowed him to stay on the active roster.

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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