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How to rehabilitate a teenage rapist

When the lawyer for Ma’lik Richmond, one of the two teens convicted in the Steubenville rape case, went on "The Piers Morgan Show" Tuesday night and said his client would appeal the verdict, he sounded, well, like a rape apologist. It was unfair for Richmond to be on a sex offender list, the lawyer, Walter Madison, had argued, because “I don't believe that a person at 75 years old should have to explain for something they did at 16 when scientific evidence would support your brain isn't fully developed.”

Incredulous, Morgan retorted, “I got three teenage sons and when you get to 16, 17 ... your brain's developed enough to know you shouldn't be raping girls."

But here's the thing: While Richmond and his fellow offender Trent Mays are justly being held accountable for their crimes, Madison was actually citing medical consensus.

“They have not completed their neurological development. That carries through until their early 20s,” says Elizabeth Letourneau, associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Health at Johns Hopkins and the director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. “They don't attend as much to the downside of what they're going to do as much as they attend to the pleasure or reward. Their brains are in fact different and cause them to behave differently.”

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