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Published: Wednesday, 1/8/2014 - Updated: 11 months ago

Deal dismisses charge against Steubenville principal

School leader accused of failure to report suspected child abuse

BY TORSTEN OVE
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Authorities in Ohio agreed today to dismiss a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse filed against the principal of an elementary school in the aftermath of two rape investigations in Steubenville.

Lynnett Gorman, principal at West Elementary School, was set to go to trial today, but her lawyer and the attorney general's office worked out a deal in which she will perform community service in exchange for the dismissal of the misdemeanor charge.

The case will be dismissed by June 1 if Ms. Gorman performs 40 hours of community service and speaks to other teachers and administrators in the Steubenville school district about recognizing and reporting child abuse.

"Lynnett Gorman believes that she committed no crime," the parties said in the agreement approved by Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove. "She also believes that if she had the ability to go back to April 2012 she would have acted differently. School teachers and administrators should always err on the side of caution when the interests of the children are at stake."

Ms. Gorman was among five adults with ties to the school district indicted last year in connection with the rape investigations that roiled this Ohio Valley town in 2013.

The charge against her focused on her actions in regard to an alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by a group of Steubenville High School baseball players in April 2012. Under Ohio law, school officials are obligated to report suspected abuse or neglect, regardless of the outcome of any investigation.

The alleged incident occurred four months before the August rape of a 16-year-old girl by two football players, Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond, both of whom were convicted.

Ms. Gorman's lawyer, Dennis McNamara of Columbus, refused comment after today's court proceedings, saying the agreement precluded the parties from discussing the case.

Prosecutors also declined comment.

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

Contact him at: tove@post-gazette.com, or 412-263-1510.



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