Football player convicted in Steubenville sex assault sues Youngstown State University to play

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN) – A Youngstown State football player who is not allowed to play this season is suing the university.

Click the image to read the filing.

Ma’lik Richmond filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Youngstown, seeking to be reinstated to the team.

In the lawsuit, Richmond claims his civil rights are being violated by the university. He argues that since he is a student at the school and made the football team, he should be allowed to play.

In its response to the lawsuit, YSU stated, “no good deed goes unpunished,” stating that the university “bent over backward” to support Richmond 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 court documents read.

Richmond said YSU didn’t support him during backlash from the community, however, despite what he said were assurances that YSU would do so.

A student petition sought to remove Richmond from the team based on his sexual assault conviction while he was a high school student in Steubenville.

In August, YSU announced that Richmond would continue to be part of the team but would not be allowed to compete in games.

The lawsuit states that Richmond was assured by Coach Bo Pelini and YSU President Jim Tressel that despite his misconduct as a teen, he would be allowed to play on the team. Richmond also stated that the university encouraged him to emerge from anonymity to play football and promised to stand behind him in the event of controversy, but he said the university broke its promise by publically humiliating him by penalizing him without cause.

YSU’s response said that while it wanted to give Richmond a second chance, it also wanted to send a message that sexual assault is taken seriously at the university. YSU’s response said Richmond’s argument of gender bias in his suit has no standing in regard to the case.

Richmond is seeking an injunction to allow him to be eligible to play this Saturday against Central Connecticut State.

A hearing will be held before Judge Benita Pearson Thursday afternoon. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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