Ex-school employee pleads to obstruction in Steubenville rape case

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2015 4:31 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A former school employee in Ohio pleaded guilty to obstruction in a rape case involving a 16-year-old girl that drew national attention after supposed images of the incident circulated on the Internet, the state's Attorney General office said Friday.

William Rhinaman, former information technology director for Steubenville City Schools, pleaded guilty to obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor.

Rhinaman was indicted in 2013 by a special grand jury that looked into whether officials had tried to thwart the investigation into the rape by two Steubenville High School football players.

Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Rhinaman to 90 days of jail, 80 of which are suspended upon completion a year of probation and 40 hours of community service. He will also have to pay court costs and fees.

Rhinaman had previously pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go on trial in May. Steubenville is about 35 miles (56 km) west of Pittsburgh.

The case drew national attention after a photo and video online appeared to document the assault of the girl while activists denounced a cover-up by school officials.

In March 2013, two high school football players were found guilty as juveniles of assaulting the girl.

Other school employees were charged by the special grand jury. In some cases the indictments were dismissed, and in other cases school employees pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and received minor jail sentences.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Alan Crosby)