ICYMI: Steubenville Rapist Back on Football Team


Convicted Steubenville rapist Ma'lik Richmond, 18, is back on the high school football team after serving a one-year sentence and being banned from all extracurricular activities last year.  

Head football coach Reno Saccoccia, who was revealed in texts to have thrown his weight around Steubenville to prevent punishment for his players after the rape in 2012, told a local TV station that Richmond wasn't being given a second chance. He's earned it.

"I've thought about it hard and I'm going with that decision," Saccoccia said.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) claims that they have no jurisdiction to intervene. As prescribed by their bylaws, OHSAA is limited to an advisory capacity. Ultimately it's the school's decision, or Saccoccia's, in this instance. 

(An online petition to remove Saccoccia from his head coaching position attracted nearly 140,000 supporters on Change.org).

Though there's been considerable ire on social media, the PD's Rachel Dissell wrote a piece suggesting that the most important question to ask is whether or not the culture in Steubenville has changed. She spoke with Robin Palmer, director of the Mokita Center, a social welfare organization where Palmer has worked to educate and rehabilitate young sex offenders.  

"If the culture was that these players were untouchable, what is it now?" Palmer asked Dissell. 
Simply keeping Richmond off the field as a social punishment doesn't keep the community safer, but putting him back into the same culture, if it indeed contributed to a sense of entitlement, could be negative for him — and telegraph the wrong message about tolerance for sexual violence in athletics, she said.
According to Saccoccia, Richmond has done everything asked of him, academically and socially, but many think that's not enough.

Phillip Morris' column in the PD this morning blasted OHSAA for a lack of courage and asserted that the privileged status of high school sports participation should be forfeited after violent crimes. Morris suggested that Richmond might even become "a useful voice" in the campaign against sexual assaults. 

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