Steubenville schools chief goes on trial in rape case
January 12, 2015 12:00 AM
Michael D. McElwain/Steubenville Herald-Star
Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey, right, listens as his attorney Charles Bean speaks during a court hearing Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in Steubenville, Ohio.
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jury selection is set to begin today in the trial of the Steubenville, Ohio, schools’ superintendent accused of erasing evidence and misleading investigators in the investigation of the 2012 rape of a teenage girl by two football players.
Michael McVey, 51, of Steubenville has pleaded not guilty to charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice, both felonies, and misdemeanor charges of falsification and obstructing official business. His attorney, Charles Bean, could not be reached for comment.
Two Steubenville High School football players, Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond, were found responsible in juvenile court for the rape of a then-16-year-old West Virginia girl after a party that involved teen drinking in August 2012. The case attracted widespread attention partly because many details first emerged on social media, and bloggers and hacker-activist groups criticized local authorities for an alleged cover-up.
According to court documents, Mr. McVey deleted emails and data on computer hard drives or had someone wipe it for him and misled authorities about the school’s investigation into the rape allegations. His trial will be held in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court.
Mr. McVey was hired by the school district in 1997 as an assistant principal and had been superintendent since 2008. He has been on paid leave since the indictment.
On Tuesday, Mr. Mays, 18, was released after serving a two-year sentence. His attorney said Mr. Mays will be put on probationary status and will have to register as a sex offender. A judge can later consider adjusting the length of classification.
Mr. Richmond, also 18, rejoined the Steubenville High School football team after his release. A judge lowered his sex offender classification status, requiring him to register once a year for a decade.
A special grand jury investigating whether school officials or others may have known about the rape allegations but did not report it, among other things, also recommended charges against four other adults.
A wrestling coach and an elementary school principal, both of whom were accused of failing to report suspected child abuse in regard to the rape, received community service. A former volunteer football coach whose parents’ house was the scene of the party that preceded the rape was sentenced to 10 days in jail for allowing underage drinking and, last month, was ordered to serve two more months for violating the conditions of his probation.
William Rhinaman, the Steubenville schools’ former technology director, is awaiting trial on charges including tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
State law requires school employees and other authority figures who interact with minors to report suspected abuse or neglect. Pennsylvania has a similar list of required reporters that was clarified recently as a set of laws took effect Dec. 31 based on recommendations by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection convened in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University.
Under the new law, certain officials who “willfully” fail to report suspected child abuse can face tougher penalties.