Superintendent Charged in Steubenville Rape Case
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio school superintendent, two coaches and a principal were charged by a grand jury that investigated whether other laws were broken in the rape of a drunken 16-year-old girl by two football players, the state’s attorney general said Monday.
The special grand jury convened in Steubenville had investigated whether adults like coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by state law.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said the case initially was about the teenagers involved but had become just as much about the adults, including the parents.
“How do you hold kids accountable if you don’t hold the adults accountable?” he said.
DeWine said he believes the grand jury’s work is done, barring any new evidence.
The charges against the superintendent, Mike McVey, include felony counts of obstructing justice, DeWine said. McVey wasn’t immediately available for comment, but the district planned to issue a statement later Monday.
An elementary school principal, Lynnett Gorman, 40, and a strength coach, Seth Fluharty, 26, are charged with failing to report possible child abuse. A former volunteer coach, Matthew Belardine, 26, faces several misdemeanor charges, including making false statements and contributing to underage alcohol consumption. It wasn’t immediately clear if any of them had attorneys.
DeWine announced the panel’s creation March 17, the day a judge convicted two Steubenville high school football players of raping the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party in August 2012 following a team scrimmage.
The grand jury had met on and off in the months since then.
It earlier charged the Steubenville schools’ information technology director with tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury. The panel also indicted that man’s daughter on theft and receiving stolen property charges unrelated to the rape case. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The case has long been marked by allegations that more football players should have been charged and that police and prosecutors tried to cover up aspects of the case early on. Authorities counter that the two teens were arrested and charged within days of the attack.
The crime shocked many in Steubenville because of the seeming callousness with which other students took out their cellphones to record the attack and gossiped about it online. In fact, the case came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.
Big Red football is a big deal in the economically depressed city of about 18,000, a former steel town that shed thousands of jobs in past decades. The team’s football stadium, dubbed “Death Valley,” sits on a hill above Steubenville, and the team is a nine-time state champion, including back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006. Flames erupt from the mouth of a stallion rearing over the stadium each time a touchdown is scored.
Hacker activists helped propel coverage of the rape case and press allegations of a cover-up, including their reposting of a 12-minute Internet video made within hours of the attacks in which Michael Nodianos, a former Steubenville student, jokes about the victim and the attacks. The National Organization for Women had called on DeWine to charge Nodianos with failure to report a crime, while Nodianos’ attorney says he had no firsthand knowledge of the attacks.
The owners of the house where that video was made were among those interviewed by investigators.
Ma’Lik Richmond, 17, was convicted of rape and sentenced to a year in the juvenile prison system. Mays, also 17, was convicted of rape and of using his phone to take a picture of the girl naked and sentenced to two years in juvenile detention.