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Principal gets community service, charge will be dropped

Updated: Wednesday, January 8 2014, 03:32 PM EST

By: NEWS9 and Jennifer Black
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio --

A charge filed against a Steubenville City Schools principal will be dropped if she completes community service and works to educate others in the school district about child abuse and neglect.

The misdemeanor charge against Lynnett Gorman will be dismissed by June 1. That dismissal is contingent upon Gorman completing 40 hours of community service work and speaking to other teachers and administrators in Steubenville City Schools on the subject of recognizing and reporting child abuse and child neglect.

Gorman, principal of West Elementary School, previously pleaded not guilty to failure to report child abuse or neglect while acting in official capacity in a school district.

The agreement was announced in court Wednesday morning and means Gorman will not be heading to trial.


Presiding Judge Patricia Cosgrove read a statement in court saying Gorman "believes that she committed no crime. She also believes that if she had the ability to go back to April 2012, she would have acted differently. School teachers and administrators should always err on the side of caution when the interests of the children are at stake. Under the law, if there is even a suspicion of abuse it would be better to make a report so that an investigation of abuse can be conducted. Ms. Gorman has encouraged the School Board to have a speaker from the Ohio Alliance Against Sexual Violence come to the Middle School and High School in April which is Sexual Awareness Month. The parties are in agreement that this resolution is in Lynnett Gorman's best interest, in the State of Ohio's best interest, and in the best interest of the Steubenville City Schools and the Community."

Gorman is one of six people who were indicted by a special grand jury. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called for the grand jury in March after two teens -- Trenton Mays and Ma'lik Richmond -- were convicted of raping another teen in Jefferson County.

The panel of 14 jurors reviewed evidence and heard testimony as part of a state-level investigation into other possible crimes connected to the original case. Since first meeting in April, they heard from 123 witnesses.

A visiting judge found Mays and Richmond delinquent of raping a teenage girl in August 2012. Mays and Richmond were student-athletes at Steubenville High School at the time of the crimes.

Immediately after the two teens were sentenced, DeWine called for the grand jury to be an "investigative tool" to probe other claims and questions that have dogged the case, such as whether anyone else knew about the rape and failed to report it.

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UNEDITED: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Statement on Resolution in Lynnett Gorman Case

(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio)—
"Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement on the resolution of community service in lieu of conviction reached today in the Lynnett Gorman case in Steubenville Municipal Court.

“The resolution reached today is in the best interests of the Steubenville community as the area continues to heal and move forward,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.  “Ms. Gorman will be part of the work that is being done in Steubenville to educate students and school officials about the seriousness of sexual assault and the need to report these incidents.

“We want something positive to come out of this tragedy.  

“The interests of the community are served by having the principal acknowledge that she should have done things differently.  And, she acknowledges how very important it is to report child abuse and neglect.  This will make a difference in the future.   The reality is that because the charge was a fourth degree misdemeanor, and she has no prior record, had this case gone to trial, the most that could possibly come out of this is that she would have been sentenced to a short amount of jail time, with no acknowledgement that she did things wrong and no ability to move forward.
 
“We want to change the culture.  This is about the long-term healing of the community. And I believe this resolution is an important step."

The misdemeanor charges would be dismissed by June 1, 2014, if Ms. Gorman completes the following:

- Perform 40 community service hours at a rape crisis center or victim assistance center.

- Speaking to other teachers and administrators in the Steubenville City School District on the importance of reporting child abuse and child neglect.

-Encourage the Steubenville City School Board to have a speaker from the Ohio Alliance Against Sexual Violence to come to Steubenville high and middle schools in April which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month."

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Of the six people indicted by the special grand jury, Gorman was the only person to request a speedy trial.

Mike Nogay, NEWS9 legal analyst, said, "Dennis McNamara is a very experienced criminal lawyer and, by requesting an early jury trial, I think it reflected on the fact that he felt that the state's case was weak. When you see these kind of plea negotiations at this late stage with the dismissal of charges upon the completion of community service, I think it further (shows) the idea that (the) state's case was a weak one."

Gorman was put on paid administrative leave on Nov. 25 after DeWine announced her indictments. On Dec. 4, the school board returned Gorman to her position as principal of West Elementary.

Stay with NEWS9 and WTOV9.com for continuing coverage.

Principal gets community service, charge will be dropped


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