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Special Grand Jury Reconvenes Monday

October 20, 2013
By DAVE GOSSETT - For the News-Register , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

STEUBENVILLE - A special grand jury investigating whether adults knew of a series of parties last year during which two Steubenville High School students raped a 16-year-old Weirton girl will reconvene Monday.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, confirmed Friday afternoon the 14-member grand jury will resume its work Monday and said he expects the grand jury will meet for a number of days. The special grand jury has been meeting intermittently since April to determine if adults such as coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by state law.

The special grand jury issued its first indictment earlier this month, against Steubenville City Schools director of technology William Rhinaman, who was arrested on Oct. 7 at his Mingo Junction home.

The 53-year-old Rhinaman is facing several charges, including tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; obstructing justice, a fifth-degree felony; obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor; and perjury, a third-degree felony.

He has pleaded innocent and is set to appear before Summit County retired Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove Friday morning for a pre-trial hearing.

Cosgrove was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to oversee the special grand jury investigating the Steubenville rape case.

Steubenville attorney Stephen Lamatrice represented Rhinaman during his Oct. 9 arraignment hearing but told the judge Rhinaman would need a court-appointed attorney or legal representation from the Ohio Public Defender's Office for Friday's pre-trial hearing.

"The court will look at the defendant's financial assets and I will notify the Ohio Public Defender's Office and ask if they will provide representation. The court will consider all of this. If the defendant does not have the resources or cash, the court might consider appointing an attorney and require the defendant to repay Jefferson County after the case is over," Cosgrove said.

The Steubenville Board of Education placed Rhinaman on a paid leave of absence Wednesday.

Franciscan University of Steubenville also placed Rhinaman on administrative leave from his position as an adjunct professor there upon news of his indictment.

Earlier this year, a juvenile court judge convicted Ma'Lik Richmond and Trent Mays of rape in connection with the Aug. 11, 2012 incident.

Mays also was found delinquent of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

The special grand jury has met 10 times since it was seated April 30. DeWine announced the grand jury immediately following Richmond's and Mays' convictions on March 17.

Investigators have searched Steubenville High School, the Harding Stadium fieldhouse and the local school board offices, from which cell phones and computers were seized.

Investigators also searched Vestige Digital Investigations, a digital forensics storage company in Medina, Ohio, about 35 miles south of Cleveland. The company's connection to the case remains unclear, however, and it has denied it is the subject of a criminal investigation.

 
 

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