School employee set for court appearance
STEUBENVILLE – William Rhinaman, the director of technology for Steubenville City Schools, has been placed on a leave of absence pending the outcome of a criminal indictment that claims Rhinaman participated in a cover-up following the arrest and conviction of two Steubenville High School students for the rape of a Weirton teenager.
Rhinaman was set to be arraigned this afternoon on charges he tampered with evidence, obstructed justice, obstructed official business and perjured himself during a six-month-long special grand jury investigation reviewing whether additional crimes were committed regarding the Steubenville teen rape case.
Rhinaman was arrested Monday afternoon at his Mingo Junction home by agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and taken to the Jefferson County jail, where he has remained without bond until his scheduled arraignment set for 1 p.m. today.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday the no-bond order for Rhinaman was not issued by his office.
“Bond is set by the court. Our agents took the individual to the county jail and the presiding judge will decide what bond will be set,” DeWine said.
Rhinaman was named in a four-count secret indictment Monday that accuses the 53-year-old Mingo Junction man with tampering with evidence by altering, destroying, concealing or removing evidence from Aug. 11, 2012, to April 25, 2013.
The series of parties that ended with the Weirton girl being raped by two Steubenville High School students occurred on Aug. 11, 2012.
Count two of the indictment handed down Friday by the special grand jury alleges Rhinaman tried to stop the prosecution of another person by either concealing or destroying evidence and getting the person to withhold information or communicating false information from April 8 to Oct. 4.
The third count charges Rhinaman with obstructing official business from April 8 until Oct. 4.
The perjury charge claims Rhinaman made a false statement under oath to the special grand jury during a July 8 proceeding.
DeWine said in a Tuesday telephone interview the grand jury will continue to review evidence.
“The grand jury work is not done and the panel will continue to meet. Our goal is to find the truth. Some investigations take time and this investigation is ongoing. I am not going to speculate on future indictments. That wouldn’t be fair. But the grand jury will continue meeting, ” declared DeWine.
“This is certainly not the end of our investigation. The special grand jury will meet again this month and they could very well be in session for more than one day. Additional testimony will be taken and evidence will be examined,” stated DeWine.
A press release issued Tuesday afternoon by Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey said Rhinaman was originally employed by the school district in 1985.
“He worked for the district until 2002 when he worked for the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. He returned to the Steubenville Schools in 2006 and has since been employed in his present capacity. As the director of technology, Rhinaman is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the district’s technology infrastructure, hardware and software,” according to the press release.
“The board is not privy to the grand jury proceedings and has no knowledge or information about the evidence leading to these charges. The board will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities in their on going investigation as we have since this investigation first began,” concluded the statement.
Rhinaman was set to appear before visiting retired Summit County Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court this afternoon for an arraignment hearing.
Cosgrove was appointed to preside over the special grand jury proceedings by the Ohio Supreme Court after Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese recused himself from the case.
The special grand jury has met 10 times since it was seated on April 15 and is set to meet again later this month.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com)