When a grand jury investigating the 2012 Steubenville rape case handed up its first indictments back in October, they amounted to an announcement in capital letters that Attorney General Mike DeWine suspects several adults tried to cover up the grisly rape of a high school girl by two Steubenville High football players. William Rhinaman, the school system's IT chief, was indicted on charges that he obstructed the investigation almost from the time it started and lied to the grand jury. Given that Rhinaman is such a small fish who had no reason to risk his career and his freedom by taking part in such a ghastly cover-up, the question was obvious--when would a bigger fish get perp-walked?
Well today, we learned that the stench from this case goes all the way to the top--literally. The city's superintendent of schools was indicted on charges that strongly indicate he was complicit in the cover-up. He was one of four adults indicted by the grand jury today.
Steubenville Superintendent Michael McVey, 50, faces the most serious charges, including felony charges of obstructing justice charge and tampering with evidence as well as related misdemeanor charges of obstructing official business and falsification. If convicted, DeWine's office said he could face more than five years in prison.Read the indictment against McVey here, the indictment against Belardine here, the indictment against Fluharty here and the indictment against Gorman here. The charges against McVey, however, are the most staggering. Apparently McVey, like Rhinaman, hindered the investigation as late as last week.
Messages to the district offices were not immediately returned and no statement was released. A local television station reported that the Steubenville School Board would hold an emergency meeting Monday to address the charges. Calls to home or cell phone numbers for each of adults indicted were not returned as of late Monday.
In addition, Matthew Belardine, a former volunteer assistant football coach, is charged with misdemeanor charges of allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making false statements to investigators and contributing to the delinquency of minors.
Belardine was the adult who broke up the first party where the 16-year-old victim and her two assailants were drinking.
During the March trial after which Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were convicted, several students testified about him breaking up the party but said they were didn't know if he was aware of the drinking or if he was home during the party.
If convicted, Belardine faces more than a year in prison.
Others indicted include Seth Fluharty, a wresting coach and special education teacher and Lynett Gorman, who is listed as an elementary school principal in the district. They are both charged with not reporting suspected child abuse or neglect and, if convicted, face up to 30 days in jail. Gorman's charges specifically are related to the April 2012 reported sexual assault. Under Ohio law, teachers and school officials are considered "mandatory reporters" of suspected child abuse and neglect. That would include reported sexual assaults.
Those who were indicted have been served, DeWine said, and are expected in court next month.
If convicted, McVey could be in custody for far longer than the two convicted rapists. By comparison, Malik Richmond will serve at least two years in a youth facility, while Trenton Mays will serve at least one year--though they could both be held until they turn 21. DeWine said that with these indictments, "the grand jury has demanded accountability" for any adults involved in the cover-up. To put it mildly, that's an understatement.
While a lot of people thought football coach Reno Saccoccia would be indicted today, the indictment of McVey is an even bigger development. It's hard to comprehend how a superintendent of schools could be so callous as to cover up a rape. This development, to my mind, takes the Steubenville case to the level of the Penn State affair, if only because McVey's role looks analogous to that of Graham Spanier.
4:25 PM PT: DeWine said in his prepared remarks that the grand jury is likely done unless new evidence comes up. GIven that ten times out of ten, Rhinaman and McVey are probably going to start dropping dimes on Saccoccia very soon if they aren't already, that new evidence may be in the offing very soon.