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Steubenville still divided over rape convictions

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — The wound runs deep – so deep that some refuse to talk about it and others lash out at the very mention of it.

One year ago today, two Steubenville High School students went to jail for raping a 16-year-old Weirton girl in August 2012. But the Steubenville community as a whole, after grand jury proceedings and additional indictments along with an international spotlight, has been sentenced to a longer period of turmoil and social division.

At about 10 a.m. Sunday, March 17, 2013, Judge Thomas Lipps found Ma’Lik Richmond, then 16, and Trent Mays, then 17, guilty of raping the Weirton girl following an underage drinking party in Steubenville. Lipps also found Mays guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a naked picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

Lipps sentenced Richmond and Mays to spend at least one year in an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility, or until they turned 21 years old, on the rape charge. He also ordered Mays to spend an additional year in the youth center for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Richmond in January was released from a youth detention facility near Cleveland.

As rumors of the assault surfaced in the late summer of 2012, people in Steubenville quickly took sides. Some blamed the girl, saying she put the Steubenville High School football team in a bad light and herself in a bad position by even attending the party. Many others supported the girl, saying she was a victim of what they believed was a hero-worshipping culture built around football players who believe they can do no wrong and a football team that lived above the rules.

To judge by comments and attitudes of some of those in Steubenville, much of that division remains even though both Richmond and Mays were found guilty…

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