Nation & World News

Steubenville Officials Plead Not Guilty In Rape Case

By Mark Memmott on December 14th, 2013

Four adults, including the city’s schools superintendent, pleaded not guilty on Friday to several charges stemming from the aftermath of the notorious rape 2012 rape of a teenage girl by high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio.

Steubenville’s WTOV-TV reports that:

— “Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him: Tampering with evidence, two counts of obstructing justice, falsification and obstructing official business.”

— Matthew Belardine, a former volunteer football coach, pleaded not guilty to four counts: “allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, falsification and contributing to delinquency of a minor.”

— Lynnett Gorman, principal of West Elementary School, pleaded not guilty to “failure to report child abuse or neglect while acting in official capacity in a school district.” As you’ll see below, the charge against her relates to a second alleged rape of a girl — not directly to the infamous case that became headline news across the nation.

— Seth Fluharty, an assistant wrestling coach and special education teacher, pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to report child abuse or neglect.

Two other adults, Steubenville City Schools technology director William Rhinaman and his daughter Hannah, previously pleaded not guilty to charges including obstructing justice (William Rhinaman) and receiving stolen property (Hannah Rhinaman).

The case involving the football players, as we’ve previously written, became national news after some of the boys who were involved posted pictures of the victim and accounts of what they had done on social media. That triggered an online campaign to press local authorities to investigate and prosecute. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office took over the case.

Last March, two boys were found guilty of rape.

The investigation into the rape and the alleged efforts by the school officials to either cover up what happened or interfere with authorities’ efforts to identify those responsible, led to evidence of “a second rape during another drunken teen party four months before the one that drew worldwide scrutiny,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

According to the newspaper, “the charge against elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman, and at least some of the counts against Mr. McVey, involve their response to an April 2012 incident in which a 14-year-old girl said she was raped by a group of baseball players at a coach’s house. … No suspects were ever named. A law enforcement source said the girl later recanted and said the sex was consensual. The indictments of Ms. Gorman and Mr. McVey refer to specific actions regarding how they handled the initial allegation.”

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