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OUR VIEW: High school gridiron no place for a rapist

It looks like business as usual for Steubenville football team

Published: August 29, 2014 4:00 AM

Steubenville High School's season-opener Thursday night marked a return to the gridiron for wide receiver Ma'lik Richmond, who was sidelined last season.

That's because the high school senior was behind bars, serving a juvenile prison sentence for rape.

Richmond and another Steubenville High football player were involved in a sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl, who was intoxicated to the point of alcoholic coma. The attack, which surfaced in part because of videos of the incident, drew nationwide attention and raised questions whether school officials and coaches covered up players' involvement because the "Big Red" team reigns supreme in Steubenville.

Richmond, 18, has served his prison sentence, but as a convicted Tier II sex offender he will have to register his whereabouts every six months for up to 20 years.

There are those who would argue that he has paid the price for his crime and, as a onetime juvenile offender is entitled to a chance at redemption.

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We believe a convicted rapist has no place on the high school gridiron -- or in the classroom, for that matter. As an athlete and potential role model in a "football town" such as Steubenville, he ought to be held to a higher standard.

The fact that Richmond has served his time does not erase the fact that he committed a horrendous crime against a young woman. The idea that "Big Red" fans may be cheering his exploits on the gridiron is repugnant. And we can't imagine how young women at Steubenville High must feel when encountering him there, knowing the actions that sent him to prison.

Steubenville High football coach Reno Saccocia, who continues to coach "Big Red" despite speculation that he attempted to shield Richmond and the other player convicted of rape, told a local TV station that Richmond had earned a second chance.

We disagree. Because of his actions, he has forfeited the privilege -- and involvement in extracurricular activities such as athletics is a privilege, not a right -- to return to the football field. And, because of his conviction of a violent crime, he also has forfeited his place in the classroom. While he has a legal right to an education, arrangements ought to be made for instruction off-site.

Having Ma'lik Richmond on the football field isn't about second chances or redemption. It's a signal that, as far as Steubenville High School is concerned, it's still business as usual when it comes to football. And evidently that means a sense of entitlement for those on the gridiron; it appears that they can do just about anything -- including raping a teenage girl -- without lasting consequences.

There's a rapist on the gridiron at Steubenville High School this fall. He has no place being there.

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redleg6 Aug 31, 2014 2:21 PM

From:...cbsnews.com....Ohio Chief Probation Officer Fred Abdalla Jr. told CBS affiliate WTRF, "There's no law against it that states he can't play. There's no OHSA rules that they'd be violating, then I think the boy should be allowed to play. Ma'Lik Richmond has done everything the court has asked him since he's been sentenced....

*Maybe no law, but what about common sense...Why would the parents of the students of Steubenville, allow an adult sex offender to mingle with their children, and attend their school? Put him in alternative school for sex deviates.

The schools that are on the football schedule should tell Steubenville, we don't play with rapists, that's our policy. If he comes on the field, walk off.

A little kid was expelled from school sometime ago for chewing his pop-tart into the shape of a handgun, EXPELLED zero tolerance....

A convicted 18 year old student rapist, should be expelled forever, Zero tolerance for RAPIST, and find another way to get educated. He made the choices..

What about the Victim? Traumatized for life.. You don't hear much of anything about her.


user_23876 Aug 30, 2014 7:45 PM

All the comments voiced here are the product of pure hysteria.  So many of the opinions expressed run against the laws and rights expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Ohio Revised Code.  If you disagree with those then it's your right to work to change them.  But here, the assertion that because this individual is male he is not covered by those laws and rights and should therefore be subject to the whims of the writers'--or any writers'--emotionalism, writers who in no way were even parties to the events that led to the actions taken against Mr. Richmond, is just that--hysteria.  It's like reading the editorials of that local guy that once, in his own misplaced piety, revealed the license plate of a local man because he thought it expressed an inappropriate capitalistic sentiment regarding his own wealth and then the writer had to apologize for his own crossing the line and breaking the rules.  He knows who he is. 

stanback Aug 29, 2014 11:14 AM

He's "earned" a second chance? How? By serving a court ordered incarceration? He has served his time but he has earned NOTHING! I wonder if it was the coach's daughter at that party, would he feel the same way. Of course not. Well, at least this nice young man will be ready for the life of big time college football or the NFL where you can punch a woman in the face until she is no longer conscious and you will only miss a couple games.