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2 Teen Athletes Convicted in Ohio Rape Trial

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By Andrew Lu on March 18, 2013 10:27 AM

Two high school football players were found delinquent in an Ohio rape trial in which social media played a key role.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were both found delinquent in the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl. Witnesses said the girl was too drunk to move or speak when she was assaulted by two members of the football team at a party in the eastern Ohio city of Steubenville, reports Reuters.

Ohio prosecutors say they will continue to investigate the case, and others may also be charged.

Charged as Juveniles

Because the two football players are minors, they will avoid adult criminal penalties for the act. Richmond was sentenced to at least one year in a juvenile detention facility, and Mays received at least two years because he was also found delinquent of taking and distributing pictures of the victim to others.

They could both be held in juvenile detention until they are 21, and both will be required to register as juvenile sex offenders, reports Reuters.

Both Mays and Richmond had denied charges of rape -- in this case, by digital penetration -- and argued that any sex that occurred was consensual. However, several witnesses describe the victim as being in a drunken stupor and in no condition to give consent. One of the boys' attorneys vowed to appeal the decision.

The Role of Social Media

The Steubenville rape case had made national headlines because of the important role social media played in the investigation. Prosecutors sifted through more than 396,000 text messages, 308,000 photos, and 940 video clips to help build their case, reports Reuters.

In fact, attention to the case was largely due to the hacker group Anonymous publicizing a photo and video from the party, including a photo of the two defendants carrying the passed-out girl by her wrists and ankles. Widespread online publicity led prosecutors to set up their own website to counter speculation.

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