Football player in Steubenville rape case appeals sex-offender status

COLUMBUS, Ohio - One of the two Ohio high school football players convicted this year of raping a 16-year-old girl is appealing his sex-offender classification.

Ma'Lik Richmond received the state's second-toughest label from Judge Thomas Lipps last month, meaning he has to register as a sex offender every six months for 20 years. It's the same classification Richmond's co-defendant received.

Unlike adult sex offenders, Richmond's name won't be included on publicly accessible websites, and he can request to have the classification removed later based on his rehabilitation.

The public defender handling the appeal, Brooke Burns, said Thursday she couldn't comment without Richmond's permission. The appeal was filed last week in Jefferson County in eastern Ohio.

Richmond and co-defendant Trent Mays were convicted of raping the West Virginia girl last year after an alcohol-fueled party. The case has been furiously debated online and led to allegations of a cover-up to protect the celebrated Steubenville High football team.

Richmond, 17, was sentenced to a year in the juvenile detention system. Mays, also 17, was sentenced to two years following his conviction on charges of rape and using his phone to take a picture of the underage girl naked.

A grand jury in Steubenville, the county seat, continues investigating whether other laws were broken in the rape case.

A focus of the panel is whether adults required to report child abuse, such as teachers and coaches, knew of the rape allegation but didn't tell authorities.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is leading the investigation, said recently he can't give a timeline for the grand jury to finish its work.

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