Petition calls for removal of college football player after rape conviction

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WJW) - More than 7,000 people have now signed a petition demanding that Youngstown State University remove a football player from the team because of a high-profile rape conviction.

Ma'lik Richmond and another high school football player from Steubenville were convicted in 2013 for raping and then photographing a 16-year-old girl while she was unconscious.

The trial and the sensationalism around it made national headlines.

Petition calls for removal of college football player after rape conviction
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Petition calls for removal of college football player after rape conviction
(Photo: WJW)
(Photo: WJW)
(Photo: WJW)
(Photo: WJW)
(Photo: WJW)
(Photo: WJW)

Richmond served almost a year in detention before returning to the Steubenville team.

He has quietly joined the Youngstown State University football team as a walk-on defensive tackle.

But thousands who have signed in support of the petition do not believe he should be representing the school as a football player.

Katelyn Davis of Struthers, who created the petition says, "Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by "furthering his education."

Supporters have commented "He may have served his short time but that girl is serving a life sentence, " and "This young man should still be in jail."

But on campus, students and alumni are more forgiving.

Jamie Herr, an offensive tackle on the Youngstown State team describes Richmond as a good teammate.

"He does what he is supposed to, he shows up on time, doesn't cause problems, pretty quiet kid from what I have seen," said Herr. "He works hard and like in the weight room, on the field, off the field, in the classroom he's in his playbook from what I have seen,"

"Everybody makes mistakes and everybody deserves a chance to be forgiven and make things right and as long as he does that and does not go any further into what he has done I'd say give him a chance," said Matthew Franks

"We are the athletes. We are expected to inspire other people. When we do things like that it's a bad name for all of us. But at the same time, everybody is going to make some sort of stupid mistake whether it's big or small as long as they learn from it," said Logan Mitchell, a freshman on the women's track team.

The petition is expected to be delivered to Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Head Football Coach Bo Pelini, who previously expressed his own interest in giving Richmond a second chance.

The university on Monday did not say how it will address the petition, saying it had not yet been delivered.

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