Protesters outside the Juvenile Court building in Steubenville, Ohio.
Protesters outside the Juvenile Court building in Steubenville, Ohio (Reuters)

Two teenage American football players have been found guilty of the rape of a drunken 16-year-old girl after a party in Steubenville, Ohio.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, will serve a one-year sentence in a juvenile detention facility following the trial, which has attracted nationwide attention.

Mays will serve a further year for illegal use of a minor in nudity-related material.

Both wept as the verdicts were read out, and later apologised to the victim and the community.

The high school football team the boys played for is a source of real pride for the depressed steel town of 18,000 inhabitants. So much so that the Big Red, as they are nicknamed, and local police were accused of attempting to cover up the crime.

Hackers group Anonymous launched a campaign to raise the profile of the case, and masked members of the group held protests outside the courthouse for the duration of the trial.

After a drunken party last August, Mays and Richmond raped the victim in the back of a car then in the basement of a friend's house while she was incapacitated by alcohol.

"They treated her like a toy," said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.

She could remember nothing of the attack, and only became aware of what had happened when she was shown videos, photos and messages that were being circulated on social networking sites.

Scores of text messages and other online material was used to piece together what happened on the evening and as evidence in court, as there was no physical evidence of the attack. .

Friends of the guilty pair gave evidence against them in exchange for immunity from prosecution.