Sex offender status reduced in Steubenville ex-football player rape case

FILE - In this March 13, 2013, file photo, Trent Mays, left, and Ma'lik Richmond sit at the defense table before the start of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio. Mays, a former high school football player found delinquent in the rape of a 16-year-old girl is asking a judge for a less restrictive sex-offender status. Judge Thomas Lipps is scheduled to hear Mays’ arguments Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool, File)
FILE - In this March 13, 2013, file photo, Trent Mays, left, and Ma'lik Richmond sit at the defense table before the start of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool, File)

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) – A judge on Friday reduced the sex offender status of a former high school football player found delinquent in the rape of a 16-year-old girl.

Trent Mays was released in January after serving a two-year sentence in an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility. He was required to register as a sex offender every six months for the next 20 years.

Judge Thomas Lipps reduced Mays’ status to the lowest sex-offender level, meaning he must register annually for the next 10 years. Such reductions are an option for juveniles but not adults under Ohio law.

Mays’ attorney, Adam Nemann, had asked for Mays’ status to be eliminated or reduced. Assistant Ohio attorney general Brian Deckert asked Lipps to keep Mays’ status in place.

Lipps said the reduction available to juveniles allows worthy candidates to rejoin society with their rights restored.

“It is the right thing to do, the correct thing to do and the just thing to do,” Lipps said in Jefferson County court in Steubenville.

Mays completed his detention at Paint Creek Light House Youth Center, a state juvenile detention program that offers an intensive rehabilitation program for juvenile sex offenders

Mays and another high school player in Steubenville were convicted of a raping the West Virginia girl at a party in 2012. Mays, 19, was also found delinquent for using his phone to take a photo of the nude victim.

Last year, Lipps eased the same requirements for Mays’s co-defendant to registering once a year for the next decade.

The case drew national media attention in part because of the role of texting and social media in exposing the attack, which led to allegations that authorities were covering up the actions of players on the city’s revered football team.

Mays is taking classes at Hocking College in southern Ohio, where he’s also the star quarterback of the school’s fledging football team.

He’s not allowed to live on campus because of his sex-offender status, and it wasn’t clear if a less restrictive status would change that.

Hocking College President Betty Young has said everyone deserves a second chance, although second chances don’t excuse prior behavior. She said Mays has successfully completed everything the juvenile justice system required of him.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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