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Steub. Board of Ed. to review status of indicted employees

Updated: Tuesday, December 3 2013, 09:30 PM EST

By: NEWS9 and Ryan Eldredge
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio --

The Steubenville Board of Education will meet to discuss the status of several employees who are on administrative leave following indictments by a special grand jury investigating a teen rape case.

The board will meet in regular session Tuesday for the first time since it was announced that Superintendent Mike McVey, West Elementary School Principal Lynnett Gorman and special education teacher Seth Fluharty were put on paid administrative leave.

The district employees were immediately placed on paid leave on Nov. 25 during a special meeting, after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the indictments.

During that special board of education meeting, the board never discussed the allegations against the employees and instead referred all questions to DeWine's office, as he is leading the investigation. Before the Nov. 25 meeting was over, school board members told members of the media that their primary focus is on making sure the school district is able to conduct the business of educating students.

Tonight's meeting is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. and in the agenda, under "Recommendations of the Superintendent," it says the board plans to enter executive session to discuss the employment of the district's technology director. The district previously approved William Rhinaman's retirement and school officials have said they would like to fill that position. Rhinaman was also indicted by the special grand jury.

The board also plans to review the status of employees placed on administrative leave, including McVey, Gorman and Fluharty.

NEWS9 called the central office several times to Tuesday and left a message to see if a reporter could speak with someone before the meeting, but those calls had not been returned as of 5 p.m.

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.

DeWine called for the special grand jury in March after two teens -- Trenton Mays and Ma'lik Richmond -- were convicted of raping another teen in Jefferson County.

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.

DeWine said during the course of the investigation of the rape, 16 witnesses, both adults and teens, were uncooperative. A grand jury can be used to compel witnesses to testify.

In all, the special grand jury indicted six people. McVey is charged with the following five counts:

-Tampering with evidence, which is a third-degree felony
-Two counts of obstructing justice, which are fifth-degree felonies
-Falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor
-Obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor

-Fluharty is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect while acting in official capacity in a school district, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. He is a wrestling coach at Steubenville High School and elementary school teacher.

-Gorman, principal of West Elementary School, is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect while acting in official capacity in a school district, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

-Matthew Belardine is charged with four counts, including a misdemeanor count of allowing underage drinking, as he was the owner of a home where a party took place. He was also charged with obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor; falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor; and contributing to delinquency of a minor, a first-degree misdemeanor. He is a former volunteer football coach.

-William Rhinaman was indicted on four counts. He was the Steubenville City Schools' director of technology, then was placed on administrative leave after his indictment and later retired from his position. William Rhinaman has pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury. All of the charges were related to his position at Steubenville City Schools.

-Hannah M. Rhinaman, who is William Rhinaman's daughter, was indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 23 and has pleaded not guilty to two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of grand theft. DeWine previously said the Hannah Rhinaman's charges "are not directly related to the rape, but the grand jury came across this evidence and issued the indictment." DeWine said the charges against her are related to incidents that happened at Steubenville City Schools.

A NEWS9 crew will be at tonight's board of education meeting. Stay with NEWS9 and WTOV9.com for continuing coverage as details become available.

Steub. Board of Ed. to review status of indicted employees


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