UPDATED Sept. 15
A judge issued a temporary restraining order in favor of Ma’lik Richmond’s suit Thursday evening. The order prevents Richmond’s eligibility being withheld until a Sept. 28 hearing in the case.
A former Steubenville (Ohio) High School football player convicted of rape has filed a lawsuit against Youngstown State because of the school’s decision to not allow him to play in games this fall.
Ma’lik Richmond has been practicing with the FCS school this fall. But he’s not allowed to play in games for the team. Wednesday, he alleged in his suit that the school made an arbitrary decision to keep him from playing in 2017 and is fostering an anti-male bias because a petition against his inclusion — a petition that got widespread support — was started by a female student at the school.
Richmond and a teammate were found guilty of an August 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl. He enrolled at YSU in 2016 and was a walk on this fall. Since he was convicted as a juvenile, he served a one-year sentence in juvenile detention for the rape conviction.
From the suit, obtained in full by Deadspin.
“On or around August 9, 2017, Coach Pelini called Greg Agresta and advised him that there was a lot of pressure being exerted by the university Board of Trustees and that President Tressel was proposing that Ma’lik be restricted to participating as a practice player and wait until the following year to play in games. This suggestion greatly upset Greg [Agresta], who said it was unfair to do that to Ma’lik and was not what Ma’lik, [guardians] the Agrestas, and Coach Pelini had agreed to. Jen Agresta was also angered by the suggestion, rejected it and insisted that she wanted to speak to President Tressel. She thereafter did meet with him and Ron Strollo and they suggested that Ma’lik be a “developmental redshirt” despite the fact that Ma’lik couldn’t technically be redshirted and did not require development. Indeed the Agrestas spoke with Coach Pelini later that day and he informed them that Ma’lik was practicing and performing better than ever and probably would be a starter at some point.”
The suit then claims the “suggestion” turned into reality after the petition’s recognition. The following graph from the suit is really quite remarkable coming from a plaintiff who is a convicted rapist.
“In taking unfair, unjust, and indefensible action against a male student who had not violated any rule or policy at YSU, defendant was infected by an anti-male bias that has swept across America’s universities and colleges and is only now being identified and challenged. This bias flows from years of criticism directed at colleges for purportedly being too lax in punishing sexual assault.”
Richmond is asking for a court injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent Youngstown State from withholding him from any other games, though we’re unsure how enforcement would go if he somehow prevailed. A court can’t mandate playing time.
The Ohio attorney general filed a response Thursday asking for the dismissal of the suit. From the Akron Beacon-Journal.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office submitted a scathing reply on behalf of the university arguing why Richmond’s petition for relief shouldn’t be granted. The reply says “proving no deed goes unpunished,” the school has been “hauled into court by a student that YSU has bent over backward to assist, support and provide a second chance when no one else would.”
“The rest of the world had written Plaintiff off as an unrepentant rapist, but YSU encouraged him and integrated him as ‘part of the student community,’ “ the reply said.
– – – – – – –