Four Ohio school employees plead not guilty to charges in rape case
Four eastern Ohio school workers entered not guilty pleas Friday
to charges stemming from a grand jury investigation into other
alleged crimes spurred by the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two
high school football players.
The four include Mike McVey, Steubenville’s top school official,
whose attorney promised to fight the charges.
“We are confident that we are going to prevail in these cases
and prove they’re unfounded,” said McVey’s attorney, Charles Bean.
“This was an investigation that went nine months and this is all
Special Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove accepted the not-guilty
pleas Friday in Jefferson County court and let the four remain free
In total, six individuals have been indicted by the rape
investigation grand jury, whose work is finished.
McVey and three others are charged with trying to thwart the
investigation into the August 2012 rape of the West Virginia girl
by the football players. The players were convicted in March and
sentenced to the state’s juvenile detention system.
McVey is Steubenville’s superintendent. The others are former
Steubenville schools’ technology director William Rhinaman,
football team strength coach Seth Fluharty and volunteer football
coach Matt Belardine.
A fifth defendant, elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman,
is accused of failing to report possible child abuse, apparently
involving a teen sex and drinking party in April 2012 unrelated to
the West Virginia girl’s rape, her attorney, Dennis McNamara, said
after the hearing.
“None of this has anything to do with her job,” said McNamara,
who added that Gorman learned about the party second- or third-hand
while checking to see if her son had been involved.
Because parents of the teens knew of the party’s circumstances,
“I don’t think she had an obligation” to report it, McNamara
A sixth defendant, Hannah Rhinaman, is the daughter of William
Rhinaman. She is accused of stealing school equipment in an alleged
crime investigated by the grand jury but unrelated to the rape
The football players’ rape of the 16-year-old girl drew
nationwide attention because of allegations prosecutors didn’t
charge more individuals.
McVey’s charges include felony counts of obstructing justice and
tampering with evidence and a misdemeanor charge alleging he made a
false statement in April 2012.
Belardine, whose house authorities said was the scene of the
underage drinking party that preceded the rape last summer, faces
several misdemeanor charges.
Fluharty was charged with failing to report possible child abuse
in August 2012.
William Rhinaman is charged with evidence tampering, obstructing
justice, obstructing official business and perjury. The 53-year-old
Mingo Junction man has pleaded not guilty.
Hannah Rhinaman faces theft and receiving stolen property
charges. She has pleaded not guilty.