STEUBENVILLE – An attorney representing Trent Mays, 17, of Bloomingdale said Friday he will petition a juvenile judge to release Mays early from state custody if Mays successfully completes a nine-month program for juvenile sex offenders.
In March, Mays was found delinquent of a charge of rape in connection with an incident involving an underage girl that happened last August. He also was found delinquent of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone. He was sentenced to a minimum of one year in a Department of Youth Services facility on each charge, with the sentences to be served consecutively.
A hearing for co-defendant Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville was continued because of motions filed by his attorney, Walter Madison.
Visiting Judge Thomas Lipps on Friday ruled that Mays is a Tier II sex offender requiring him to report his address to the sheriff of the county where he lives every 180 days for 20 years.
Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office wanted Lipps to give Mays a lifetime sex offender reporting requirement, which would have required him to report every 90 days for the rest of his life. Defense attorney Adam Nemann had asked for the least restrictive Tier I sex offender status, which would have required Mays to report annually for 10 years.
Lipps said he will recommend Mays be sent to the Paint Creek Lighthouse Youth Center, a privately run facility for juvenile sex offenders. Lipps said the facility has a “superior” program for youth sex offenders.
Lipps said the sexual offender classification for Mays will be reviewed once Mays is released from state custody. The classification can either be made less severe or eliminated. If no action is taken at the first hearing, Mays can petition the court in three years for a reclassification. If no action was taken then, Mays would be able to file a petition every five years for a reclassification.
Nemann said the program at Paint Creek lasts for nine months. If Mays is accepted and completes the program, Nemann said he will file a motion for an early release for his client.
Nemann said no appeal was filed in Mays’ convictions.
“The family is accepting responsibility and interested in complying with the court’s orders so (Mays) can return to society and back to the family,” he said.
According to testimony at the trial, the victim, a teenager from Weirton, brought alcohol to a party in Steubenville in August and became highly intoxicated. When that party was shut down, the victim was taken by the two defendants to another Steubenville house, where she threw up at least twice, testimony revealed. She then was driven to a house outside Wintersville.
Witnesses at trial said Mays digitally penetrated the victim in the car and Richmond did the same while at the house outside Wintersville.
Mays is currently being housed in the Cuyahoga Hills DYS facility. Mays told Lipps it is a dormitory-like setting with 15 bunk beds in a unit. Lipps said Mays would have his own room at Paint Creek.
“It is nicer but harder,” Lipps said. “You just can’t sit there and wait for your time to go by. You need to work on rehabilitation and think about the boundaries of society in regards to sex.”
The hearing Friday focused on whether Mays was remorseful for his actions.
Hemmeter said the act Mays was charged with was bad enough, but Mays joked about it at least 17 times in text messages and then sent naked pictures of the victim to at least six people.
Mays underwent an assessment about seven weeks after his conviction. Lipps said the report noted Mays wasn’t taking responsibility for his actions.
Nemann said Mays didn’t know he was undergoing an assessment at DYS when a doctor asked him to open up about the incident.
“You are talking about a child who doesn’t know how to express himself like an adult,” Nemann said.
But Hemmeter said Mays should understand by now what he did was wrong.
“After sitting through the trial, he still doesn’t understand how serious it is. Here is a smart boy, a good student, quarterback of the football team. He is still blaming the victim,” Hemmeter said.
Hemmeter wanted Mays to start with a lifetime reporting requirement to force him to work harder at rehabilitation.
Hemmeter said the victim was isolated as she laid their passed out, and Mays took advantage of her and let others take advantage of her, she said.
Hemmeter said the victim as a result of the naked photos will for the rest of her life wonder it anyone she meets has seen the pictures.
“It will haunt her the rest of her life,” she said.
“(Mays) is one boy who knew her and knew her well and took advantage of her and exploited her for his benefit. That is the hallmark of a sociopath,” she said.
As for the placement at Paint Creek, Hemmeter said, “Let’s hold him accountable and hold his toes to the fire and make him jump through hoops. At the end of this dark tunnel, maybe something good will happen.”
The victim’s mother read a statement to Lipps asking Mays be given a lifetime sex offender reporting requirement.
“We realize that we have no choice but to accept the light sentence awarded to these boys, but we strongly feel that Trent Mays made a very conscious choice to publicly shame my daughter by posting and sending pornographic pictures of her unconscious body to the public. Due to the fact that these pictures can never possibly be removed from public access, this has become a life sentence for her. We encourage the judge to consider the choice of a lifetime sexual offender registration for Trent. My child’s name and face will forever remain attached to his crime because of his actions. Since this crime, she has endured countless ridiculing comments from all public avenues that have caused her great pain and stress. This will never leave my daughter, therefore it should never leave him,” the mother said.
The mother said Mays may have had a stellar past but he can’t decipher simple right from wrong and how it has affected numerous people.
Nemann said Mays has had a positive attitude since his sentence to the Department of Youth Services. He said Mays was named “Youth of the Week” twice at the Cuyahoga Hills facility, and has received positive comments from teachers.
“Since he has entered the facility, he has done well. I will bet my very life he will do well. He wants to show the court and society he has been rehabilitated,” Nemann said.
Mays told Lipps he was “wrong multiple times,” and was remorseful, even though he doesn’t show it.
Lipps said Mays hasn’t shown any remorse, but also hasn’t hadn’t any rehabilitation treatment yet. The judge said Mays needs to look inside himself to realize what is right.
At the sentencing hearing for Mays and Richmond, Lipps said he would make the recommendation for Paint Creek admittance for both teens.
But, Madison, Richmond’s attorney, filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of the juvenile sex offender law. As a result, Richmond’s sex offender classification hearing has been indefinitely postponed.
“The new motion contains issues that are constitutional and substantial. The issues are applicable to all juvenile defendants in this state. The motion questions the constitutionality of Ohio’s juvenile sex offender classification laws, the jurisdiction of all Ohio juvenile courts and the wisdom of the statutory scheme set out by the Ohio legislature,” Lipps said in a court entry.
The judge said the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has not had the opportunity to review, research and respond to Madison’s motion.
The Ohio Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that juveniles classified as Tier III offenders can’t have their names placed on an Internet registry for sex offenders. Neighbors will still be notified by mail or residents can go to the sheriff’s department to request a list of registered sex offenders in the county. The name of the juvenile offender can be released.
A special grand jury was called by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to investigate all aspects of the case and whether additional people should be charged.
The grand jury has only met five days since it was seated on April 15. The delays were need to interview people and analyze computers seized from Steubenville City School facilities in April.
The grand jury was scheduled to reconvene on Monday, but that has been postponed.
No date has been set for when the special grand jury will again meet, according to the attorney general’s office.