STEUBENVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Steubenville is once again in the media spot light, this time for letting a convicted rapist play in Thursday night's high school football game against a Cleveland team.
An estimated 10,000 people were expected to fill tonight's home opener, but how many people were here to take in the grid iron action, or instead here to see convicted rapist Ma'lik Richmond return to the field.
In March of 2013, Richmond and teammate Trent Mays were convicted of raping a West Virginia girl who passed out at a party. That party was before the 2012 season, back when both players were just 16.
After serving the minimum one year sentence in a juvenile facility, Richmond returned to school in January and he was back on the football field tonight.
"Second chance right? That is what America is about," said one fan.
The rape divided the industrial town of 18,000 on the banks of the Ohio River. However, tonight's game seems to have replaced that rift with hostility toward the media, and forgiveness for the convicted rapist.
"He earned respect back from the school-he earned it," said another fan.
One organization representing rape survivors stated Steubenville does not care about the welfare of women, it only cares about football.
The school's superintendent and two other coaches, reportedly at tonight's game, were either charged or jailed with trying to cover up the rape. This adding to the argument that the safety and rights of women in Steubenville are not as important as football.
"I mean he is a good ball player," said a supporter.
The other convicted rapist, Trent Mays, is still serving his sentence and Ma'lik Richmond must now register every six months with authorities as a convicted rapist, for the next 20 years.
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