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Ohio football player classified as sex offender

| Friday, June 14, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
Trent Mays, 17, returns after a recess for the night session of his trial during the third day of Mays' and Richmond's trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Friday, March 15, 2013, in Steubenville, Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A high school football player convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl was given the state's second-toughest sex-offender classification at a Friday hearing.

The decision by Judge Thomas Lipps in Jefferson County Juvenile Court in Steubenville means that Trent Mays could be required to report to a local sheriff every six months for 20 years.

Unlike adult sex offenders, however, Mays' name won't be included on publicly accessible websites. And he can request to have the sex-offender classification removed later based on his history of rehabilitation.

Lipps on Friday agreed with a request from Mays' attorneys that the teen be transferred from Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility near Cleveland to a southern Ohio facility that works with sex offenders.

One of Mays' attorneys said after the hearing that he will ask Lipps to release Mays from state custody if he completes the program at Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in Chillicothe.

That would be a departure from the two-year sentence that Lipps handed Mays in March when he convicted the teen of raping the West Virginia girl during an alcohol-fueled house party last summer. Mays, 17, was convicted of using his phone to take a photo of the naked girl.

“The whole purpose of the juvenile system is rehabilitation,” Columbus defense attorney Adam Nemann said. “If he's in compliance and does everything he's asked to do, as a juvenile he ought to be returned to his family and attempt to piece his life back together.”

Mays has been a model inmate at Cuyahoga Hills, Nemann said.

Messages seeking comment about the possibility of an early release were left with the attorney for the victim and her family.

Lipps had been scheduled to hold hearings for both of the players he convicted of rape in March. He canceled the hearing for defendant Ma'Lik Richmond, whose lawyer filed motions ahead of the scheduled court appearance.

Richmond's attorney, Walter Madison, declined to comment on the nature of the motions, which were sealed.

Richmond was sentenced to at least one year for raping the girl.

The case drew international attention because of the role of texting and social media in exposing the attack. A grand jury is considering whether other people broke the law in connection with the case by not alerting authorities to initial reports of the rape.

That panel was expected to meet Monday but will not convene as scheduled, Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's Office, said.

At the time of their sentencing in March, Lipps recommended the teens be assigned to the Paint Creek facility, which he said has a strong program for juvenile sex offenders.

The privately operated center is an open campus, where staff members rely on their relationship with residents to prevent escapes, according to the Department of Youth Services.

Staff and children live together at the facility, which has shown success in preventing teens treated there from committing more crimes.

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