TWO high-school American football players have been found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl at a party while others stood by and took pictures.
Trent Mays (17) and Ma'lik Richmond (16) wept as they were convicted in a trial that had bitterly divided the community of Steubenville, Ohio, and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect its popular football team, known as the 'Big Red'.
The teenagers sexually assaulted their victim at a series of alcohol-fuelled end-of-summer parties and in the back of a car in August.
Mays, who was also found guilty of disseminating a nude photograph of a minor, was sentenced to at least two years in juvenile detention.
Richmond was sentenced to at least one year. Exactly how long they will serve will be determined later and they may be held until they are 21. They were tried as juveniles without a jury.
A series of text messages, social media posts and online pictures and video relating to the incident had brought the case to widespread attention.
The images included one of Mays and Richmond carrying the unconscious girl by her arms and legs. It led to allegations that other members of the football team had witnessed the crime and, instead of trying to stop it, had recorded it.
Two Big Red players, and another teenager who was present, were later granted immunity from prosecution in return for giving evidence which helped to convict Mays and Richmond.
The Big Red had been a source of pride in a community of 18,000 people that suffered extensive job losses when the steel industry collapsed. On many Friday nights 10,000 people in the downtrodden town watch the team play.
The girl later read text messages among friends and saw a video that referred to the attack. Marianne Hemmeter, prosecuting, said: "They treated her like a toy. This case isn't about a video. This case isn't about social media. This case isn't about Big Red football.
"This case is about a 16-year-old girl who was taken advantage of, toyed with and humiliated. And it's time people who did this to her are held responsible."
Ohio's attorney general will decide later whether additional charges will be brought against others in the case. (© Daily Telegraph, London)