Steubenville Rapist Playing Football for Youngstown State

Stambaugh Stadium/Jack Pearce; Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month in Afghanistan/Sgt. Ashley Bell, U.S. Army (CC-BY-2.0/Public Domain).

Last week, Youngstown State University (YSU) Sports Information Director announced that Ma’Lik Richmond will join the Penguins’ defensive line this 2017 season. In a widely-publicized case, Richmond, of Steubenville High School, was convicted of raping a 16-year old girl. The assault happened in 2012 at a party following a high school football game.

Richmond, along with fellow student athlete Trenton Mays were charged. However, video evidence shows additional students participating in the act. Jefferson County Sheriff, Fred Abdalla, said that the video, while disturbing, presented no new evidence of any crimes.

“It’s a disgusting video,” he told Huffpost. “It’s stupidity. But you can’t arrest somebody for being stupid.”

Richmond has been a student at YSU for the past year. He joined the football team in January. YSU President Jim Tressel stated that he knew of Richmond’s enrollment as a student, but was not notified or consulted about him joining the football team. Tressel said he believes everyone deserves second chances, an opinion he shares with Bo Pelini, head coach of YSU’s football team. Pelini gave an interview with Youngstown’s newspaper, The Vindicator on this subject.

K. Davis, a YSU student, started a petition on Change.org, asking Pelini to remove Richmond from the team. Davis claims that playing college football is a “privilege” given to someone “who absolutely does not deserve it.” They also address the administration’s statement on second chances with this response:

“Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by furthering his education on YSU’s campus. Does he deserve the privilege of playing on a football team and representing a university? Absolutely not. Education is a right, whereas playing on a sports team is not.”

Since its posting just a few days ago, the petition has garnered nearly 10,000 signatures.     

Sexual assault doesn’t only occur in the heterosexual or cisgender community. According to a study by Kerith Conron, Matthew Mimiaga and Stewart Landers for the American Public Health Association, sexual minorities were more likely—on average—to report “lifetime sexual victimization” and sexual assault. In a different study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women. The CDC study also found that 26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men

Transgender people are also at increased risk of experiencing sexual assault. The 2011 Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 12 percent of transgender youth report being sexually assaulted in K–12 settings by peers or educational staff; 13 percent of African-American transgender people surveyed were sexually assaulted in the workplace; and 22 percent of homeless transgender individuals were assaulted while staying in shelters.

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