But her daughter said she can not yet forgive Richmond and Mays for what they did
The mother of the Steubenville rape victim has forgiven one of the boys who violated and degraded her daughter. The extraordinary act of grace came as Ma’lik Richmond, 16, broke down and wept for his crime as the verdict was delivered to a highly charged courtroom.Approaching the victim’s mother he said: ‘I’m so very sorry.’She responded: ‘I know you are and I forgive you.’
Her words are made more remarkable by the fact that her daughter does not share her feelings and cannot yet forgive Richmond and Mays, 17, for what they did to her.Speaking to MailOnline outside the Jefferson County Juvenile Court, the family’s solicitor, Bob Fitzsimmons, said: ‘It’s a very religious, spiritual family. They are praying for those two young men also.’The family’s priest, Father Larry Dorsch, had been in court throughout the grueling trial and described them as very active members of St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Weirton. But asked if the victim too had forgiven the boys who betrayed her trust, humiliated her and preyed on her when she was at her most vulnerable Mr Fitzsimmons said: ‘I think she was prepared to do that. She came here wanting to forgive them but she hasn’t made that decision yet. He continued: ‘This thing might have never happened had someone approached the family sooner. They are a very religious family. They would have accepted an apology at the time.’The victim was not in court to hear the verdict delivered.
According to Mr Fitzsimmons: ‘It is a sad day. Why should she be part of that sadness? It has, he explained, been hard enough for her to endure the days of testimony and of waiting for the moment she had long dreaded – taking the stand.That anxiety and nervousness was only worsened by the fact that her testimony was twice delayed in a trial with days at time running to a marathon 13-and-a-half hours. Mr Fitzsimmons said: ‘There has been a lot of hand holding and hugs and a lot of anxiousness and nerves.’And though she may not have forgiven the boys who have put her through so much she has, he said, shown remarkable compassion for them.
He said: ‘This was very difficult for her to go through. You saw her break down. ‘She’s always felt bad for the boys. She’s pretty strong but she’s a 16 year old girl who didn’t want to get anybody into trouble.‘These boys accused themselves. She actually liked one of them. She had a crush on him. ’Now it is highly likely that a civil case will be brought against the defendants and though Mr Fitzsimmons would not be drawn on the timing of any such action he has confirmed that he is representing the family in the matter, adding: ‘Remorse did come late in my opinion.’And in emotional scenes today both defendants Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, wept uncontrollably as Judge Thomas Lipps handed down his verdict, describing their actions as ‘profane and ugly.’ As Mays and Richmond were comforted by their attorneys and their families sobbed, prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter pressed for a stern sentencing reminding the judge: ‘They showed absolutely no regard for what happened to the victim.
‘In the case of Mays once the information got out, there was a very conscious decision to turn it on her. ‘The lack of remorse was appalling’ Today, as both Steubenville High School students faced the reality of the consequences of what happened that August night last year, their remorse appeared overwhelming. Both have been sentence to a minimum of one year in a juvenile detention institution with the maximum stay of until they are 21.Mays faced an additional charge of the use and dissemination of nude images of a minor. He received the same sentence for that to run consecutively. His minimum detention is two years.His actions were, according to Judge Lipps, ‘more egregious’ making it inappropriate that he should face the same sentence as Richmond.
Richmond’s father, Nathaniel, who has been present in court every day made his way over to his son, fell to his knees and told him that he loved him. ‘My life is ruined,’ Richmond told attorney his Walter Madison, who was clearly shocked at the verdict. Mays father, Bryan, held his head in his hands as the defendant’s sister Rhiannan and mother wept. Both defendants took the opportunity to address the victim and her family – present for the verdict and visible to the defendants but out of view of the main court in a screened off section of seating. Mays was composed as he said: ‘I would like to apologize to [the victim] and her family, my family and the community. No pictures should have been sent let alone ever taken.’ But though Mays apologized quite specifically for taking pictures of the victim and sending them nowhere did he mention or offer an apology for the rape. In every communication with the victim following the night of 11 -12 August he repeatedly denied raping her. In fact in an incriminating detail it is an allegation he denies before it is ever made. Again and again his texts show him turning the blame on the victim, hectoring her, pressurizing her not to go to the police and telling her that the rape ‘didn’t happen.’ Standing in court, convicted of that crime and filled with apparent regret, the rape remained a crime for which he does not apologize. When it came to Richmond’s turn, he walked towards the victim and her family, across the courtroom, weeping; ‘I would like to apologize. I had no intention to put you guys through this. I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.‘I ruined her life . ’At this, he could no longer speak because he was overcome with tears, and was walked back to this seat by Fred Abdalla Jr, Chief Probation Officer for Jefferson County Juvenile Court. Apologies followed from Bryan Mays, Greg Aggresta – Richmond’s guardian who, along with his wife Jennifer have been in court every day. The Aggresta’s have spoken openly about their support for Richmond and love for him ‘whatever happened.’Today in court they appeared emotionally shattered. Richmond was not in their care when the events took place.
Across days of often appalling testimony the court has heard texts, tweets and emails between the defendants and their friends. They have heard about pictures, been reminded of vile video rants and seen the reality of what these boys did and how they behaved, who they were, when nobody else was looking. The case has scandalized America and scarred the small town of Steubenville, Ohio. Mays and Richmond will begin their sentence today. They will be taken to an institute just northwest of Columbus, Ohio where they will be assessed and a decision made as to where they should spend their time in custody. ‘So much of what happens with their future depends upon their attitude and how they embrace their rehabilitation,’ said Judge Lipps. ‘There is plenty of room to demonstrate your good character. There is also plenty of room to make mistakes.’