Special jury to continue to meet

WINTERSVILLE – A special Jefferson County grand jury investigating if adults or school administrators knew about the rape of a Weirton teenage girl last year by two Steubenville High School students will meet again today.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Monday afternoon the 14 member grand jury had recessed for the day shortly after 4:30 p.m. and would reconvene today.

It is the second day this week the grand jury will meet in session.

“The Attorney General has stated he expects the grand jury will meet for a number of days,” Tierney said.

The special grand jury has been meeting since April to determine if adults, coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by state law.

“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. This is certainly not the end of our investigation. Additional testimony will be taken and evidence will be examined,” DeWine has said.

William Rhinaman, the director of technology for Steubenville City Schools was named in a four count indictment two weeks ago.

DeWine called the secret indictment naming Rhinaman “the first indictment issued by the special grand jury reviewing whether additional crimes were committed regarding the Steubenville teen rape case.”

The 53-year old Rhinaman is facing several charges including tampering with evidence, a third degree felony; obstructing justice, a fifth degree felony; obstructing official business, a second degree misdemeanor and perjury, a third degree felony.

Rhinaman is set to appear before Summit County retired Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove Friday morning for a pre-trial hearing.

Cosgrove was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to oversee the special grand jury investigating the Steubenville rape case.

Rhinaman entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment proceedings last week to a four count indictment accusing the 53-year old of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

Steubenville attorney Stephen Lamatrice represented Rhinaman during the arraignment hearing but told the judge Rhinaman would need a court appointed attorney or legal representation from the Ohio Public Defender’s Office for the Oct. 25 pre-trial hearing.

Two Steubenville High School students, Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays, were convicted of rape earlier this year in connection with an incident in August 2012. Mays also was found delinquent of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

DeWine announced the grand jury March 17, the same day a judge convicted two teens of raping the Weirton girl after an alcohol-fueled party following a football scrimmage in August 2012.

The grand jury has worked off and on since beginning work April 30.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com)