When news of the Steubenville rape case broke two years ago, it didn’t just rock the small Ohio community. The case quickly garnered national exposure, and in the end two teenagers were convicted of the crime. This week, one of them is back on his high school’s football team.
In news that is unsurprising yet devastating to anyone well-versed in the realities of sexual assault advocacy, convicted Steubenville rapist Ma’Lik Richmond didn’t even have to serve out his full sentence. Although he will have to register as a sex offender “every six months for the next 20 years,” Richmond was released in January, a few months before his full one-year sentence would have been up.
According to the Steubenville City School District Athletic Code of Conduct, which is available online as part of the Steubenville High School Handbook, the Steubenville City Schools Board of Education “recognizes that participation in athletics is a Privilege, not a right.” By putting Richmond on the roster, the school is privileging a convicted rapist.
Even though he served his time, allowing Richmond to enjoy a “privilege” like playing on the school’s football team sends a message that the crime committed wasn’t that serious. After all, how could it be if he’s enjoying a privilege earned by his law-abiding teammates?
We have to echo the sentiments shared by Alexandria Goddard in a BuzzFeed issue on the topic:
“Steubenville City Schools hasn’t really done a lot in the past two years to prove to the world that they don’t tolerate rape culture and allowing a Tier II registered sex offender on the team pretty much solidifies the assumption that they are concerned about wins rather than the safety of young girls or the destruction of rape culture in their area.”
Force: Upsetting Rape Culture
Learn more about what rape culture is and how to fight it.