Steubenville school official faces charges around rape

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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- The Steubenville school district technology director began tampering with evidence shortly after two high school football players raped a 16-year-old West Virginia girl last year, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

William Rhinaman, 53, of Mingo Junction, Ohio, is accused of altering, destroying, concealing or removing potential evidence, starting on or about Aug. 11, 2012, through April 25. He is scheduled to be arraigned today on that offense and charges of obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Tuesday said the special grand jury tasked with investigating whether other crimes were committed in connection with the rape isn't done with its work and will convene again Oct. 21.

The indictment released Tuesday revealed few specifics about what exactly Mr. Rhinaman is accused of, and Mr. DeWine would not elaborate beyond saying the charges are related to his job as district technology director.

The obstructing justice charge accuses him of destroying or hiding evidence, getting someone to withhold information or communicating false information from April 8 to Oct. 4 in order to prevent the apprehension of another person.

The obstructing official business charge alleges he tried to get in the way of a public official's duties from April 8 to Oct. 4.

The perjury charge alleges that he lied under oath July 8, a day the special grand jury was in session.

The 14-person panel first met in April to investigate whether school officials or others may have known about the rape allegations but did not report it, among other things. State law compels school employees and other authority figures who interact with minors to report suspected abuse or neglect.

Superintendent Michael McVey said in a statement that Mr. Rhinaman has been placed on a leave of absence, pending the outcome of the charges.

Mr. Rhinaman worked for the district from 1985 to 2002, when he started a job with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. In 2006, he returned to the district as technology director.

Bob Fitzsimmons, attorney for the victim's family, said they're pleased with the indictment.

Steubenville residents, some restless, seemed to agree on one thing Tuesday: They're ready for a conclusion, come what may.

"I think people in the community are looking forward to this coming to a close," said longtime Steubenville resident Joe Scalise, 66. "We really would like to get this behind us."

education - nation - region

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM


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