COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The sex offender classification given an Ohio high school football player convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl did not violate constitutional due process protections or amount to double jeopardy, a state appeals court ruled in upholding the reporting requirement.
A judge in August gave Ma'Lik Richmond the state's second-toughest sex offender classification — Tier II — the same that his co-defendant received in June 2013. Unlike adult sex offenders, Richmond's name won't be included on publicly accessible websites and he can request to have the sex offender classification removed later based on his history of rehabilitation.
Richmond's lawyers argued the classification amounts to double jeopardy because it was deferred until he was released from detention. They also argued violations of equal protection rights, saying there was no reason why different classification standards apply to children depending on their age — rules for those aged 14 and 15, for example, and different rules for those 16 and 17.
The court's three-judge panel rejected those arguments in Monday's ruling, as they did an argument that the classification is cruel and unusual because it can extend beyond an offender's 21st birthday.
The classification does not "raise concerns with fundamental fairness," because of judges' discretion in choosing a level, the fact it could be reduced once the case is over and that it could be eliminated three years after that, the panel said.
Richmond's attorney declined comment on the decision Friday and could not say whether an appeal was planned.
Richmond, 18, and his co-defendant were found guilty last year of raping the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party in August 2012.
The case drew international attention because of the role of texting and social media in publicizing the attack and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the celebrated Steubenville High School football team.
A grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the case brought additional charges against six adults, including Steubenville superintendent Michael McVey, who has pleaded not guilty to felony counts of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice, and misdemeanor counts of falsification and obstructing official business.
William Rhinaman, the Steubenville schools' former technology director, has pleaded not guilty to charges of evidence tampering, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.
Charges against four other individuals have been resolved.