Charge dropped for coach in Ohio teen party rape case

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 11, 2014 2:30 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Prosecutors will drop a misdemeanor charge against an Ohio wrestling coach accused of failing to report a suspected rape of a teenage girl by high school football players at a party, authorities said Friday.

Steubenville High School wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, indicted by a grand jury in November, will have the charge of failure to report child abuse or neglect dismissed if he completes 20 hours community service and other requirements, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

The rape case drew national attention to Steubenville, Ohio, a town about 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, after images that appeared to document the assault of the 16-year-old girl at a party in August 2012 circulated online and hacker group Anonymous demanded justice.

Two high school football players were found guilty as juveniles of assaulting the girl, and DeWine called for a grand jury to determine if adults in the town had covered up the crime to protect the school's nationally known football program.

"Fluharty 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," DeWine said in a statement.

Fluharty and four others were indicted on charges ranging from failure to report a possible crime to obstruction of justice stemming from the August 2012 incident and another purported sexual assault of a teen girl at a party in April 2012.

The Steubenville City Schools superintendent, the district's former director of technology, an elementary school principal and a former volunteer assistant football coach also were indicted by the grand jury. All have pleaded not guilty.

A misdemeanor charge of failure to report abuse or neglect was dropped in January against the elementary school principal in exchange for her performing community service.

Ohio law requires educators to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Gunna Dickson)