U.S.

Steubenville superintendent, 3 others charged in rape case inquiry

School principal and two coaches accused of interfering with investigation or failing to report possible abuse

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announces indictments against four additional people on Monday in relation to the 2012 rape of a high school student in Steubenville, Ohio.
Keith Srakocic/AP

A school superintendent and three others have been charged by a grand jury that investigated whether other laws were broken in the rape of a 16-year-old West Virginia girl last year in Steubenville, Ohio, the state's Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Monday. 

The special grand jury convened in Steubenville investigated whether adults like coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by state law.

The charges against the superintendent, Mike McVey, include felony counts of obstructing justice, DeWine said. 

An elementary school principal, Lynnett Gorman, 40, and a strength coach, Seth Fluharty, 26, have been charged with failing to report possible child abuse. A former volunteer coach, Matthew Bellardine, 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.

"This community has been torn apart by the actions and bad decisions, not of the many but rather of the few," DeWine said at a news conference Monday. 

He said the case initially was about the teenagers involved but became 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 announced the grand jury'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 after a team scrimmage. The panel met on and off in the following months. DeWine said he believes the grand jury's work is done, barring any new evidence.

Ma'Lik Richmond, 17, was convicted of rape and sentenced to a year in the juvenile prison system. Trent Mays, also 17, was convicted of rape and of using his phone to take a picture of the girl naked and was sentenced to two years in juvenile detention. 

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.

Earlier this year, the Steubenville school district's information-technology director was charged 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 school's football team plays a significant role in Steubenville, an economically depressed former steel town of about 18,000 people that shed thousands of jobs in past decades. The team's football stadium, dubbed "Death Valley," sits on a hill above the city, and the team is a nine-time state champion, including back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006. 

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 attack. 

The National Organization of Women called on DeWine to charge Nodianos with failure to report a crime, while Nodianos' attorney says he had no firsthand knowledge of the attack.

The owners of the house where that video was made were among those interviewed by investigators. 

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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