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Published: Tuesday, 4/22/2014

Former coach gets jail in connection with rape case

Steubenville volunteer sentenced to 10 days for allowing underage drinking at 2012 party

BY TORSTEN OVE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A former volunteer football coach in Steubenville whose parents’ house was the scene of a teen booze party that led to the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl must report to jail Friday to serve 10 days for allowing underage drinking and for lying to authorities.

Matt Belardine, 24, pleaded no contest to the charges Tuesday in a Jefferson County Common Pleas courtroom before visiting Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove.

In addition to the jail term, the judge placed him on probation for a year and ordered him to perform 40 hours of community service. He also has to pay a $1,000 fine.

The Belardine home was the first house where a group of high school kids started drinking during an end-of-summer bash in August, 2012. The night ended with the rape of a drunk Weirton girl by two high school football players.

Mr. Belardine said he came home that night to find that his sister, Kamy, had invited a large group of students to the party. After a while, he said, the party was getting out of control, so he told everyone to leave.

He initially told police that he came home at midnight, two hours later than the time he gave the special grand jury investigating the aftermath of the rape.

He was not charged with supplying alcohol but with being aware that underage drinking was going on.

The Belardine house was not the scene of the rape.

Prosecutors said the crime occurred later when Trent Mays penetrated the girl with his fingers in the back of a car while she was too drunk to know what was happening. The other player, Malik Richmond, was convicted of doing the same thing in the basement of a friend’s house while Mays tried to make her perform oral sex.

Mr. Belardine’s case is the fourth of six to be resolved in the wake of that incident and an investigation of another alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by baseball players in April of that year.

He’s the first one to get jail time.

Wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, accused of failing to report suspected child abuse in regard to the August rape, struck a deal in which he will perform community service in exchange for dismissal of the charge.

Lynnett Gorman, principal at West Elementary, faced the same charge, except that hers pertained to the alleged April rape. No one was charged in that case, but Ohio law requires school officials to report all suspected child abuse regardless of outcome. Ms. Gorman entered a deal similar to Mr. Fluharty’s and received community service.

The others awaiting disposition are superintendent Mike McVey and technology director William Rhinaman.

Mr. Rhinaman’s daughter, Hannah, a former school employee, was indicted on theft charges unrelated to the rape cases but uncovered during the grand jury investigation. She pleaded guilty in March to stealing school computer equipment.

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

Contact Torsten Ove at: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-231-0132.



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