The saga of Ma’lik Richmond is, once again, being played out in the legal system.
Richmond sued Youngstown State in federal court Thursday in an attempt to get himself immediately reinstated to the football team. Per the lawsuit, the player has the support of YSU head coach Bo Pelini and the university’s president, former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.
In addition to reinstatement, Richmond is also seeing unidentified damages to go along with attorney fees.
U.S. District Court Judge Benita Y. Pearson heard arguments from both sides Thursday afternoon; a few hours later, she issued a temporary restraining order that forbids YSU from preventing Richmond from participating in football games until the next hearing. That hearing is currently scheduled for Sept. 28, effectively allowing Richmond to play in any games the Penguins have scheduled over the next 14 days.
As of this posting, YSU has yet to publicly respond to the judge’s order. YSU plays host to Central Connecticut State Saturday; it’s unclear if Richmond will be in uniform.
Word surfaced in early August of this year that an online petition was seeking the removal of Richmond from the Youngstown State football roster. In 2013, Richmond was one of two football players from Steubenville High School in Ohio to be convicted of raping a 16-year-old high school girl, and served nearly a year for his crime.
Giving the firestorm of criticism that erupted after it was learned he was on the Penguins’ roster, the university very shortly thereafter announced that Richmond would not be permitted to play in games for the team in 2017 even as he would be permitted to continue practicing with the team.
In the suit that triggered what is right now a temporary order, the plaintiffs argued that Richmond did not violate the student code of ethics as had been contended; has been denied the right to due process in violation of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution; and that the university violated Title IX laws by discriminating against Richmond on the basis of his sex.
In its response to the suit, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office ripped into the filing. From the Associated Press:
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.
The school is also arguing that Richmond failed to follow the school’s grievance procedure before he filed the lawsuit.