Editor’s Note, 8/22/17: This story has been updated throughout.
The father of the infamous Steubenville, Ohio rapist tried to kill a judge there on Monday.
Nathaniel Richmond shot Judge Joseph Bruzzese outside the Jefferson County Courthouse before Bruzzese returned fire. A probation officer shot and killed Richmond. Bruzzese was hospitalized.
Bruzzese was presiding over a pending wrongful-death civil case Richmond filed after his mother died in a house fire, and he was to preside over a hearing scheduled for next Monday. Police said Monday they are familiar with Richmond, who pleaded guilty to assault and attempted murder for a drive-by shooting in 2002. Richmond was sentenced to five years in prison, the Herald-Star reported.
Two weeks before Monday’s shooting, Richmond’s son Ma’lik was denied one year of football eligibility by Youngstown State University because of his high-school rape conviction in 2013. Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said Bruzzese had no role in Richmond’s rape case.
In 2012, a 16-year-old girl testified in juvenile court that Steubenville High School football players Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays sexually assaulted her and took nude photos of her while she was unconscious. The photos were traded among players, but no one came forward or reported the assault. The story generated national outrage after the case proved to be fiercely divisive in the football-centric town, and as social media took on a larger role in the case with the release of explicit texts and Instagram photos, media attention mounted. Thousands protested police’s handling of the case.
The teen said Richmond and Mays tried to intimidate her in her two-hour-long testimony. She said she remembered nearly nothing, but was able to use social media to piece the night together. People she said were her friends testified against her, leading to national criticism of school and students’ loyalty to the football team.
Her testimony and the photo evidence were used to convict Richmond and Mays.
Judge Thomas Lipps presided over Richmond’s case and his father, Nathaniel, pleaded with him during the sentencing phase. “Your honor, I beg you in the name of God to show leniency on Ma’lik,” Richmond was quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2013.
Richmond was convicted, served the minimum sentence of one year, returned to the high school football team, and graduated. Richmond enrolled at Youngstown State in August 2016 and joined the football team as a walk-on defensive tackle. On August 9, 2017 the Youngstown State announced he would be forced to forfeit a year of eligibility after students petitioned for his removal from the team, according to CBS Sports.
A petition circulated campus aiming to ban Richmond from being allowed on the team was signed more than 6,000 times.
“The University is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and of petitions that are circulating on social media in protest and support of one of our students, Ma'lik Richmond,” a YSU statement read.
Hanlin said they are not releasing the identity of a second man who was briefly detained by police at the scene, and have enlisted help from the FBI in the ongoing investigation.