Indicted School Officials Reinstated

STEUBENVILLE – The Steubenville Board of Education on Tuesday returned two employees indicted by the special grand jury investigating the Steubenville rape case to their previous positions.

School district officials said Pugliese West Elementary School principal Lynette Gorman and Garfield East Elementary School wrestling and conditioning coach Seth Fluharty will return to work Monday. They had been placed on paid administrative leave following their indictment on one misdemeanor count each of failing to report child abuse or neglect.

“The two employees have good work records and are presumed innocent until proven guilty … ,” district officials said in a released statement. “The board has no information about the evidence leading to these charges, and any questions about the charges or the criminal investigation should be directed to the office of (Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine). Our primary focus is on making sure the school district is able to conduct the business of educating our students.”

Calls to interim Superintendent Richard Ranallo were not immediately returned this morning. Ranallo is standing in for Superintendent Mike McVey, who remains on paid administrative leave. He also was indicted by the grand jury, on felony tampering with evidence and obstructing justice charges as well as misdemeanor counts of making a false statement and obstructing official business.

Also on Tuesday’s board agenda was an action to replace William Rhinaman, the now retired former district technology director who indicted by the special grand jury on Oct. 7. Rhinaman was arrested and later entered a not guilty plea to charges including tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

Ruth Ann Bruzzese, board vice president, said that Bryan D’Aurora was confirmed as new district technology director during the meeting.

DeWine convened the special grand jury in March to investigate other crimes that may have occurred surrounding the August 2012 rape of a Weirton girl that resulted in the conviction of two Steubenville High School students, Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond.

The indictments returned against McVey and Gorman also point to a separate April 2012 rape allegation by a 14-year-old girl, though no one has been charged in the alleged assault itself.

Also indicted by the grand jury was Matthew Belerdine, a former Steubenville High School volunteer football coach, on misdemeanor counts of allowing an underage person to consume beer or liquor, obstructing official business, falsification and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.