Rape verdict expected today

STEUBENVILLE – Two high school football players accused of raping a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party last summer are due back in juvenile court today to learn their fate.

Their four-day nonjury trial ended Saturday after testimony from the West Virginia teenager, who said she could not remember what happened that night when she woke up naked in a strange house. She said she felt embarrassed and scared.

Judge Thomas Lipps said he will announce his decision this morning. If found delinquent – the juvenile court equivalent of guilty – the two defendants could be held in juvenile jail until they turn 21.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, are charged with digitally penetrating the girl, first in a car and then in the basement of a house, while out partying Aug. 12. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. They maintain their innocence.

The girl, who is a student at Weirton Madonna High School, testified Saturday to a series of text messages with Mays, in which Mays continually asked her whether she was going to press charges.

She also testified to the first time she saw a now-infamous YouTube video she told the court that she could not watch the entire video, saying, “I couldn’t stop crying, so I just turned it off.”

She recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.

“They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me,” she testified. “I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video.”

She testified that she thought she had been drugged by saying, “There was no other explanation for me not remembering a single thing from that night.”

Mays reportedly continued to press the alleged victim on the issue, testimony showed.

At one point, Mays reportedly texted the victim that Steubenville High School football coach Reno Saccoccia called his house and indicated there had been a rape allegation, testimony revealed.

The girl testified she was texting back and forth with Mays, still trying to piece together what happened that night, even while she was at Weirton Medical Center at the insistence of her parents to receive a medical check.

She identified and pointed out Mays and the second defendant, Ma’lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville, who are in the courtroom.

Defense attorneys went after the character and credibility of the alleged victim. Two former friends of the girl testified that the accuser had a history of drinking heavily and was known to lie about things.

West Virginia high school student Kelsey Weaver said the accuser told her what happened two days after the alleged attack then, sometime afterward, told Weaver she couldn’t remember what happened.

“So two different versions?” asked Mays’ attorney Adam Nemann.

“Yes,” Weaver replied.

Earlier, Weaver testified that the accuser was flirting at the party with Richmond.

Both Weaver and schoolmate Gianna Anile testified they were angry at the accuser because she was drinking heavily at the party and rolling around on the floor. They said they tried unsuccessfully to get her to stop drinking.

Anile said she also tried to get her friend to stay at the party rather than leave with others, including the two defendants.

“When I told her not to leave, I was trying to, like, pull her back into the party. She was trying to shrug me off,” Anile testified. “She kind of hit me.”

The day after the party, when Anile and another friend picked up the accuser from the house where she’d stayed, the accuser said she had no memory of the night before, Anile testified.

“‘We didn’t have sex, I swear,'” Anile said, describing the accuser’s comment.

The accuser said in her later testimony that she does not remember making that statement, nor being photographed as she was carried by Mays and Richmond, an image that stirred up the community as it spread on social media sites. Others have testified the photo was a joke and the girl was conscious when it was taken.

Mays and Richmond are facing rape charges, and Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the alleged victim in an outgoing message on his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges in court.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. McElwain writes for the Steubenville Herald Star.