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Published: Monday, 10/7/2013

School aide indicted in rape case

Employee accused of hindering Steubenville investigation

BY LEXI BELCULFINE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A Steubenville City Schools employee was the first person indicted by an Ohio special grand jury investigating whether others should be charged after two high school football players were found delinquent in the August, 2012, rape of a 16-year-old girl.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Monday that William Rhinaman, 53, of Mingo Junction was indicted on felony counts of tampering with evidence, perjury, and obstructing justice, and a misdemeanor count of obstructing official business.

Mr. Rhinaman is listed on Steubenville City Schools’ Web site as director of technology.

The indictment is in relation to his role as an administrator, attorney general’s office spokesman Dan Tierney said.

Mr. Rhinaman was taken into custody Monday, but the attorney general’s office wouldn’t confirm whether he was arrested at work or at home. He was being held in the Jefferson County jail and will be arraigned Wednesday.

“This is the first indictment in an ongoing grand jury investigation,” Mr. DeWine said. “Our goal remains to uncover the truth, and our investigation continues.”

Superintendent Michael McVey said the district plans to release a statement today.

The special grand jury has been meeting for months to determine whether more people should be charged in connection with the Steubenville rape case, in which Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, were found delinquent of raping a 16-year-old girl during a night of partying on Aug. 11, 2012.

Mr. DeWine called for the grand jury immediately following the March 17 verdicts against the two Steubenville High School football players to ensure the exhaustiveness of a criminal investigation that some say was corrupted by allegiances to the football program.

The attorney general noted that 16 people refused to be interviewed during the initial investigation.

Social media played a key role in the case, which drew national attention.

Some who attended the Aug. 11 party took cell phone pictures and videos of the assault and then talked about it on Facebook and Twitter. A video later showed up on YouTube, featuring another student joking about the attack.

It was unclear whether any of the social media matters played a role in the charges against Mr. Rhinaman.

In March, Mr. DeWine signaled that failure to report a felony, failure by a mandatory reporter to report child abuse — including rape — and the provision of alcohol to underage persons are all charges that the grand jury could explore.

Under Ohio law, school employees and other authority figures who interact with minors are required to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Lexi Belculfine is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.

Contact her at: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878.



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