COLUMBUS, Ohio – A grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in connection with the rape of a 16-year-old girl last year charged a woman with theft Wednesday after uncovering evidence of alleged crimes unrelated to the rape.
Hannah Rhinaman, 20, was accused of stealing equipment from Steubenville schools and selling the property, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.
“It’s not unusual when you have a significant investigation to come across things that you did not anticipate finding,” he said in a phone interview.
Wednesday’s charges are separate from those filed earlier this month against Rhinaman’s father, William Rhinaman, the schools’ technology director. Those charges relate to the rape investigation.
It did not appear that Hannah Rhinaman has an attorney. Her home phone was not working Wednesday. A lawyer who represented her on unrelated traffic charges last month said he was not representing her, but would if appointed. An arraignment Friday was possible, DeWine said.
DeWine announced the grand jury March 17, the day a judge convicted two Steubenville High School football players of raping the West Virginia girl after an alcohol-fueled party following a football scrimmage the previous August. The two are serving sentences in juvenile detention.
In April, investigators searched the high school and the local school board offices.
A chief issue before the grand jury has been whether adults such as coaches or teachers were aware of the rape but failed to report it as required by state law. The panel met three days this week and will convene again Nov. 18, DeWine said.
Wednesday’s indictment against Hannah Rhinaman, of Mingo Junction near Steubenville, includes one count of theft and 2 counts of receiving stolen property stemming from alleged crimes last year.
She worked briefly for the school system last year as a $7.70 per hour contract employee, helping set up the technology department’s computer labs and updating software, Mike McVey, the Steubenville schools superintendent, said in a statement. He promised full cooperation.
William Rhinaman, also of Mingo Junction, has pleaded not guilty to charges of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.
Technology played an important role in the rape case. Photos of the girl taken the night of the rape were introduced at trial, as were numerous texts sent back and forth by students, including the victim and one of the attackers. An infamous YouTube video filmed by a student who had witnessed the rape featured a student not involved in the attack as he mocked the girl.
Hacker activists later used social media unsuccessfully to put pressure on authorities to charge other football players.