Steubenville rape case grand jury issues charges

  • By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
    Associated Press October 7, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in connection with the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two high school football players last year has issued its first indictment, charging a school employee with interfering with a criminal matter.

The indictment announced Monday by Attorney General Mike DeWine charges William Rhinaman with tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

Rhinaman, of Mingo Junction, was arrested Monday afternoon after the charges from Friday’s indictment were made formal, DeWine said. Rhinaman, 53, was scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday.

Without elaborating, DeWine said the charges are related to Rhinaman’s job as a Steubenville city schools’ information technology employee.

“The only thing I can say is that the grand jury investigation continues,” DeWine said.

A phone listing for Rhinaman was not taking calls Monday. Messages were also left for the superintendent of Steubenville schools.

DeWine announced the grand jury March 17, the same day a judge convicted two Steubenville High School football players of raping the West Virginia teen after an alcohol-fueled party following an August 2012 football scrimmage.

Allegations of a cover-up dogged the case, despite charges brought against the boys shortly after the attack. Attention was fueled by online activists who said more football players should have been charged. Three teens who saw the attacks, including two players, were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony.

A key issue before the panel has been whether adults such as coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by state law.

The grand jury has worked off and on since beginning work April 30.

That day, investigators searched Steubenville High School and the local school board offices.

Investigators also searched Vestige Digital Investigations, a digital forensics storage company in Medina, in northeast Ohio. The company’s connection to the case was unclear, and it has denied it’s the subject of a criminal investigation.


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