A judge says an Ohio high school football player convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl last year should be classified as a sex offender.
Judge Thomas Lipps also agreed to send defendant Trent Mays to a facility that works with sex offenders.
On Friday, Mays was given the second toughest of three sex-offender labels, meaning he must register with a local sheriff every six months for 20 years.
Because he is a juvenile, the 17-year-old Mays can also petition to be reclassified or have the label removed after he finishes his treatment.
Mays' attorney Adam Nemann says he plans to ask for early release for Mays once his nine-month program at Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in southern Ohio is completed.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
A judge was ready to classify as a sex offender an Ohio high school football player convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl last year after an alcohol-fueled house party.
The hearing Friday scheduled by Judge Thomas Lipps at Jefferson County Juvenile Court in Steubenville is a possible first step for the teen to be transferred from a state juvenile detention center to a facility that works with sex offenders.
Lipps had been scheduled to hold hearings for both of the two players he convicted of rape in March. He canceled the hearing for defendant Ma'Lik Richmond after the teen's lawyer filed motions ahead of Friday's court appearance.
Richmond's attorney, Walter Madison, declined to comment Friday on the nature of the motions, which are currently sealed. The hearing for co-defendant Trent Mays was expected to continue.
The classification options before Lipps include the least restrictive level, requiring annual reporting for 10 years, to the most restrictive: every 90 days for life.
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 their history of rehabilitation.
Lipps sentenced Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, to time in the juvenile detention system in March. He convicted them of raping the West Virginia girl after an August party celebrating a successful football team scrimmage. Richmond was sentenced to at least one year for raping the girl, while Mays was sentenced to at least two for raping her and taking a picture of the underage girl naked.
The case received 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.
At the time of their conviction and sentencing in March, Lipps recommended the boys be assigned to Lighthouse Youth Center-Paint Creek in Chillicothe, a facility he said has a strong program for treating 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 keeping teens treated there from committing new crimes.
Both Paint Creek and state officials conduct face-to-face meetings with young people and review their records in state facilities whenever determining placement, said Youth Services spokeswoman Kim Parsell, adding that all state juvenile facilities "are able to meet the unique needs of youth." She has declined to comment specifically on the hearing or Mays' and Richmond's case.
Mays welcomed the chance for the transfer, his lawyer said.
"Our client looks forward to the opportunity to attend the Paint Creek program, follow all the facility rules, and display to the Court and the community that he has been rehabilitated fully in hopes of returning to his family," Columbus attorney Brian Duncan said in a statement.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus