Alex Witt   |  March 17, 2013

Steubenville defendants break down following guilty verdict

The two high school football players accused of rape in Steubenville, Ohio sobbed after the judge delivered a guilty verdict. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> an ohio judge handed downing the verdict today, he found two teenaged girls guilty of raping a teenaged girl apparently indocks indicated at a party.

>> it is the court's decision that both of the defendantss are here adjudicated dling wents on all three counts. for those of you who are not family with ajude indication in juvenile law, it's similar to a finding of guilty.

>> it got pretty amotional for those teenagers when they realized their lives were about to change. those tears he's breaking down after he went over to apologize. but nbc's ron allen has been following this story, he joins us from stubenville. ron, it was gut wrenching for so many reasons listening to both of these boys break down, there were loud sobs in the room.

>> reporter: i don't think they realized, a lot of the teenagers involved in this night of partying i don't think many of them realized that what they were doing was actually so serious, rape, a felony. if they were adults it was a charge that could have put them away for many, many years in jail. i think when the verdict was read, the enormity of it and what it really meant hit them like a led balloon. even the victim said that she didn't realize that what actually happened to her was rape. she was violated by those boys with their hands. that's why there was so much emotion. but the sentence means that they could be in decision for the next four or five years, they also have to register at juvenile sex offenders and depending on how they deal with that punitive confinement, that could continue until after they're 21 years old. so their lives are essentially changed. in the case of malik richmond who has a very troubled past and thought he had a very bright future as a football player and that's all gone.

>> when you talk about them being football players, this is a very small town , it is a sunday, i'm curious about how this town has reacted to the guilty verdict . because the football team there rules?

>> reporter: it does alex, but i think this case tweel goes beyond that because it reveals so much about the culture of teen life here in this town. there were dozens of teens out drinking one night when this happened. a lot of alcohol, no prantal supervision, there were thousands of text messages retrieved from the phones of about 17 different individuals, they were laced with profancy, all kinds of comments that were degrading to young girls and women. i think a lot of people seelg that realized that there's something really wrong in this town, there's a big problem here. not to say that other towns don't have the same problem, but i think the trial exposed that as well as well as the crime that was perpetrated on this little girl .