Lawyer To Appeal Steubenville Verdict, Says Ma’Lik Richmond’s Brain Wasn’t Developed Enough To Know That Rape Is Wrong

brain We already know that the court drama surrounding the Steubenville rape trial wasn’t over yet. Attorney General Mike DeWine announced after Sunday’s verdict that he would be convening a grand jury trial to look into other people responsible for failing to report or covering up the rape a 16-year-old girl at a party in August. Now, we’ve learned that at least one of the convicted rapists will be appealing the trial outcome, claiming that a 16-year-old’s under-developed brain is not capable of understand that raping an unconscious girl is wrong.

The attorney for Ma’Lik Richmond, Walter Madison, was on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight explaining his appeal strategy for his client. Madison argued that his client shouldn’t have to be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life because of a choice he made as a teenager, especially, “when scientific evidence would support your brain isn’t fully developed.”

It’s worth noting that Piers Morgan, who himself is the dad to three sons, quickly jumped in and shot down the argument by saying, “When you get to 16 or 17, your brain is developed enough to know that you shouldn’t be raping girls.” Can we all get a thank you to Piers Morgan?

Madison continues to argue that it “isn’t fair” for Richmond to be forever having to explain his teenage mistakes. He says, “Would you want to be judged for the rest of your life for something you did at 16?”

The question itself is ridiculous, because most of us didn’t rape anyone as teenagers. We didn’t scar another human being for the rest of their lives. No, I don’t want people to continue to judge me by some of my more ridiculous teenage behavior, but I’ve also worked hard to prove that I’m a better person than I was a decade ago.

I’ll make Walter Madison a deal. If his client works for the next decade to educate young people on what rape is, how it happens, how we can all work to protect the girls and women around us, and how to support victims after their assault, I will consider the idea of removing him off the sex offender’s registry. But even if he wasn’t removed from the registry but spent the rest of his life teaching respect for women and their bodily autonomy,  I don’t think people would judge him as much for the mistakes of his teenage years.

The biggest problem with Madison’s argument, and the thing all of the press around Ma’Lik Richmond seems eager to ignore, is that Ma’Lik is not the only person who is permanently scarred by these events. In fact, if Ma’Lik had worried about the effect he would have on his victim’s life, for the rest of her life, he might not be in this position now. Instead, he chose to disregard her humanity and her choice. He raped her and then he laughed about it with his friends.

Ma’Lik’s actions will haunt his victim forever. So why exactly should they not haunt him?

The idea that a teenage boy is unable to process that raping another human being is wrong is absurd. And honestly, it’s an insult to every respectful, non-rapist teenage boy on the planet. Ma’Lik Richmond understood what he was doing. He just didn’t care.

Is it sad that three lives have been ruined by one evening’s horrible events? Of course it is. Does that mean that our justice system should pretend it didn’t happen? Absolutely not.

(Photo:  Kristensen/Shutterstock)

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