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Steubenville school employees plead not guilty

Updated: Friday, December 13 2013, 04:24 PM EST

By: NEWS9, Ryan Eldredge and Jennifer Black

Four people indicted in connection with an investigation into a teen rape case pleaded not guilty on Friday.

Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey pleaded not guilty to the five counts against him: Tampering with evidence, two counts of obstructing justice, falsification and obstructing official business.

McVey's personal recognizance bond was continued and a pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17 at 11 a.m.

Matthew Belardine, who is a former volunteer football coach, also pleaded not guilty. The state filed a motion for a gag order in Belardine's case, and a pretrial was set for Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. His personal recognizance bond remains in place.

Belardine is charged with four counts: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, falsification and contributing to delinquency of a minor.

Lynnett Gorman, principal of West Elementary School, waived her right to appear in court and pleaded not guilty via a written statement presented by her attorney. She is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect while acting in official capacity in a school district

Of the six people indicted by the special grand jury, Gorman is the only person to request a speedy trial. Her trial is scheduled for Jan. 7 and is expected to last one day.

Seth Fluharty also did not appear in court and waived his right to appear. He also pleaded not guilty via a written statement and his pretrial is set for Jan. 17.

Hannah Rhinaman's trial is set for Feb. 20 at 9 a.m. The trial for her father, William Rhinaman, was not scheduled on Friday and will be set at a later date.

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 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 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.

McVey, Gorman and Fluharty were all put on paid administrative leave on Nov. 25 after DeWine announced their indictments. On Dec. 4, the school board returned Gorman and Fluharty to their positions.

All six people 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.

DeWine said during the course of the investigation of the rape, 16 witnesses, both adults and teens, were uncooperative.

Stay with NEWS9 and for continuing coverage.

Steubenville school employees plead not guilty

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