- Odd News
One of the accused in the Ohio rape case that has outraged America enjoyed a six day holiday in California and watch a football game while supposedly under house arrest, it emerged today.
MailOnline has learned that Steubenville High School Football star Ma’lik Richmond was granted permission to travel to the Sunshine State between December 31 and January 5.
Along with team-mate Trent Mays, Richmond is charged with raping a 16-year-old girl at a series of back to back High School parties last August.
Holiday: Ma'lik Richmond was freed from house arrest to go on vacation to the Sunshine State even though he was charged with the horrific rape of a 16-year-old girl after film emerged of him carrying her with his co-accused Trent Mays (above)
Mays is also charged with disseminating photographs of a nude minor as images of the unconscious teenage girl were circulated on Instagram and in text messages.
Richmond, 16, travelled with his former legal guardians Greg and Jennifer Aggresta – with whom he continues to live – to watch their biological son, Johnny, compete in the prestigious All American Academic Football Bowl.
The decision has enraged members of this community in a case where many have alleged that football players in the economically deprived town operate according to different rules.
Speaking to MailOnline Fred Abdalla Jr, Chief Probation Officer at Jefferson County Juvenile Court said: ‘Ma’lik Richmond’s attorney asked the judge if Ma’lik could have permission to travel with the Agresta family between the dates of December 31 through January 5.’
Stadium: Richmond was allowed to watch his guardians' biological son compete in an All American Game at the Home Depot Center, Carson over the new year period
Prison: A judge said Richmond need not return to Indian River County Jail while his guardians were away
At the preliminary hearing Richmond’s parents had requested that he remain in the Agresta’s care until the trial.
Given those circumstances, Mr Abdalla continued: ‘Judge Lipps felt that he should go ahead and travel with them. He granted permission.’
Judge Thomas Lipps, a retired juvenile judge from Hamilton County Ohio was brought into rule on the case after Jefferson County Judge, Sam Kerr, recused himself citing a conflict.
The defendants have been under home arrest since their release from detention in October. A condition of that release is that they wear electronic bracelets and travel only to Jefferson Juvenile Alternative School and home again.
But, Mr Abdalla said, that ‘plans had been made and an intinerary set’ by the Agresta family before knowing that Ma’lik was going to be released to them and this was factored into the ruling'.
Playing Defense: Richmond's legal guardians, Greg and Jennifer Agresta went on Today yesterday to stand up for him but also admitted they hadn't asked him if he had taken part int he attack
When asked why Richmond wasn’t simply returned to detention for the six days, Mr Abdalla said: ‘The option of putting him back in was considered.
‘But both boys were in detention for a long period of time and they’re innocent until proven guilty or till they admit something. We knew where he was at every moment.’
Richmond’s attorney Water Madison said that the request to allow his client to travel was out of concern for his safety.
The decision has angered the already vocal critics who point to a local culture so cowed by, and in awe of, the so-called Big Red Footballers that while dozens have written letters in support of the defendants, the alleged victim – a 16-year-old girl – has had to endure online harassment, threats and smears.
Campaign Group Anonymous called thousands onto the steps of Jefferson Court House to protest a culture of so-called ‘victim blame,' and intimidation.
Much of the outrage that this case has caused has focused on the abusive and repugnant tweets and YouTube videos from fellow footballers and partiers of the accused.
Outrage: Much of the anger in the case has been directed at the failure of witnesses to testify against those involved despite the attack being filmed and shared on YouTube and Instagram, leading to a perception that star athletes have been treated differently
While the alleged victim was attacked others drank, partied and videoed it. ‘The thing I found most disturbing about this is that there were other people around when this was going on,’ Steubenville Police Chief William McCafferty told the New York Times last month, ‘Nobody had the morals to say, “Hey stop it, that isn’t right.’ If you could charge people for not being decent human beings, a lot of people would have been charged that night.’
Instead, the perception of many is, a lot of people are getting away with abhorrent behavior and no real reprimand from either their coach or families, because they are star athletes.
They are part of one of the few things in which this town can, or could, take pride – its winning football team. Criticising that is taboo and brings fear of repercussions.Local commentator Alexandria Goddard said: ‘These athletes get a free pass. They are treated differently. All these people come out in support of the accused. What about support of the victim?’
The victim’s own mother has expressed shock at the support of her daughter’s alleged attackers and the peers who have mocked her plight in streams of tweets, instagrams and facebook comments.
Speaking at the probable cause hearing she said: ‘All those football players are put on pedestals. I do feel they’ve had preferential treatment.’