Here's the rest of the statement:
"As with each other obstacle, Ma'Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life. While away, Ma'Lik has reflected, learned matured, and grown in many ways. He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family. At this point, Ma'Lik wants most to be a high school teenager. In conjunction with his release, Ma'Lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, as we all need to hear and move on with our lives. We will have you know that Ma'Like will be taking all the time to focus on his academic and personal goals. We ask for your support and prayers as we move forward. Thank you."
Indeed. We ask that you do pray for Ma'Lik. He may never truly understand that what he did was wrong. He will never understand what it feels like to be that unconscious 16 year old girl he dragged around like a side of beef and raped with his friend, and so proudly videoed and posted for all of social media to see. I feel for him. Because at one time, he was a young child - wanting nothing but to love and be happy. And then, his family and his community failed him. Aside from probably never having any serious conversation with his parents about empathy, respect, sexual responsibility, consent etc etc etc. They allowed him to feel like the victim in this situation - a scapegoat in a society that is "enabling young girls" to say no when everything about their dress & behavior suggests yes, that decided all unconscious girls have a right to not be undressed, molested, penetrated and exploited. It really is unfair.
It's unfair to Ma'Lik - because now he has to decide. Despite all the people that stood by him, praising him as a "good kid" an "all star athlete," all the people that made him believe that consciously choosing to hurt someone else was, not his fault entirely, but a "mistake" - a lapse in judgement. "Really, he shouldn't have posted it on Twitter etc, that wasn't very nice. But you know - he's a teen and teens do 'stupid' stuff." He has to decide that what he did was not a mistake - it was rape. Even in front of other people who stood by silently and probably cheered them on- it was still rape. It was a conscious decision to violate another human being, in a sexual manner, for his own pleasure & sense of control over her body.
It's going to be hard for Ma'Lik, if the very people surrounding him, continue to defend his crime. He will have to decide for himself that these people are wrong. He has to be sorry - not because he videoed this "prank" but because he raped a girl, as a prank.
One day, Ma'Lik may very well be a father. He may welcome a baby girl into this world and want everything for her. And then, he may look at her and imagine what it would be like if SHE was that unconscious sixteen year old girl that night. He might get it then. Maybe.
But, for now, Ma'Lik has to deal with the "unfortunate circumstances in his life" - to his lawyer, that has meant the punishment the judge handed down to him and having to register as a sex-offender for the next 20 years (maybe less, pending his "rehabilitation"). But the true "unfortunate circumstance" is that his conscience has been molded by a society that still enables rapists and still blames victims - before, during, and after.
Our kids deserve better than that. Boys & girls. Victims & perpetrators.