Volunteer coach in Ohio rape case charged with violating probation

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2014 3:22 PM

By Elizabeth Daley

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (Reuters) - A volunteer football coach convicted of lying to authorities in connection with an Ohio rape case that drew national attention will appear in court on Wednesday charged with violating probation.

Matthew Belardine, 27, allegedly got into a drunken brawl in November in Scottsdale, Arizona, with people protesting race and policing issues, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General.

Belardine was arrested on Dec. 11, when he visited his parole officer in Ohio after allegedly leaving the state without permission, Tierney said. He is charged with violating six conditions of his probation, and if found guilty he could return to jail for up to 170 days.

In April, Belardine became the first person to serve jail time after he was convicted in connection with the rape case. A grand jury had charged him and three other adults who worked for the schools in Steubenville, Ohio.

The grand jury had looked into whether school employees tried to cover up the rape of a girl at a party in 2012 to protect its high school football program. 

The rape case drew national attention to Steubenville, about 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, because of the role of social media. People involved in the incident or who were aware of it circulated texts and photos that were later produced as evidence.

Two high school football players were found guilty as juveniles of assaulting the girl after a party at the home where Belardine lived with his parents.

Belardine spent 10 days in county jail, was fined $500 fine and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service in addition to serving six months probation. 

Felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with the case remain pending against the superintendent of the Steubenville City Schools and the district's former director of technology.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Jeffrey Benkoe)