One of the young men convicted in the notorious Steubenville, Ohio, rape case is once again embroiled in controversy.
Ma’lik Richmond, 21, who was convicted of rape as a teen in the case that brought rape culture and athletics to the national discourse, sued Youngstown State University because he was barred from playing on the school’s football team after a student on campus protested.
The Associated Press reports that the sophomore sued Youngstown State this week after the school allowed him to join the football team as a walk-on defensive end in January but then told him that he would not be able to play this season.
After Coach Bo Pelini made his decision to allow Richmond to join the team, a female student at Youngstown State began circulating a petition calling for the school not to allow Richmond to play football.
Youngstown State subsequently issued a statement in a universitywide email saying that the school takes sexual assault very seriously and that Richmond would be allowed to continue practicing with the team but would lose a year of eligibility.
Richmond quit the team after learning of the email and sued the team to get a temporary order to allow him to play. On Thursday night a judge ruled that she would temporarily allow Richmond to play football for at least the next 14 days, and scheduled a hearing Sept. 28 on whether to make the decision permanent.
At Thursday’s hearing, Judge Benita Pearson said the university was contractually obliged to allow Richmond to play, so long as he followed university rules.
The school appealed that decision, and a federal appeals court on Friday ruled against Youngstown State, saying that it failed to show that a temporary order allowing Richmond back on the team “has serious or irreparable consequences.”
Richmond’s lawyer argues that the school is harming his football-career prospects by curtailing his exposure to professional scouts at the peak of his abilities.
In 2013, Richmond served about 10 months in a juvenile prison after he and a Steubenville High School teammate were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl who was deemed too intoxicated to give consent.
The case brought international attention to the role of social media in rape culture (photos of her naked and being violated were shard on social media) and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect Steubenville’s storied football team.
Richmond was released in January 2014. He attended colleges in West Virginia and Pennsylvania before transferring to Youngstown State in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore.
Richmond is seeking reinstatement to the team’s active roster, along with attorney fees and an unspecified amount in damages.
This all raises the question: If you are convicted of a crime and do your time, should it follow you for the rest of your life? Does it depend on the crime?
Read more at the Associated Press.