Duty to Children Is Moral, Legal

If members of a grand jury that spent months investigating the so-called “Steubenville rape” are right, there were attempts to cover up the crime. That is unacceptable, especially in view of the fact educators allegedly were involved.

Two students, both members of the Steubenville High School football team, already have been convicted of raping a 16-year-old Weirton girl one night in August 2012. After they were convicted, the 14-member grand jury was formed to look into whether adults knew of the rape but failed to report it, as required by law.

Earlier this year, the former technology manager for Steubenville city schools, William Rhinaman, was indicted on four charges alleging, among other things, tampering with evidence, obstructing an investigation and providing false testimony. His daughter also was indicted on charges of theft unrelated to the rape case.

On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said four more people have been indicted by the grand jury. At the top of the list is Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Mike McVey. He is accused of felonies and misdemeanors including tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and falsification.

A former assistant football coach, Matthew Belardine, was indicted on misdemeanor charges including obstructing justice, falsification, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and contributing to underage alcohol consumption.

An assistant wrestling coach, Seth Fluharty, and the principal of West Elementary School, Lynnett Gorman, were indicted on misdemeanors involving alleged failure to report abuse or neglect.

Of course, all six of those indicated are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Grand jury indictments are only statements jurors believe probable cause exists that crimes were committed.

For months after the rape occurred, there were claims, including some by people in the Ohio Valley, that a coverup had occurred. Regarding that, it needs to be remembered that within days after the crime occurred, law enforcement officers arrested the two boys who were found guilty. There was no coverup among those sworn to serve and protect.

Again, however, if grand jurors are correct, some of those most young people trust even more than police – educators – were engaged in a coverup.

We believe firmly the overwhelming majority of teachers and school administrators are quick to report any suspicion of a child being abused or neglected. In fact, it happens regularly.

Any educator who failed in that moral and legal duty regarding the Steubenville rape should be punished severely – and never again allowed to work in a school system.