Jury to be seated in Gorman trial

STEUBENVILLE – An eight-member jury is set to be seated Tuesday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court for the trial of Lynnett Gorman, the Pugliese West Elementary School principal named in a one-count misdemeanor indictment regarding failure to report child abuse or neglect on April 12, 2012.

Because the charge is a misdemeanor, an eight-member jury is being seated instead of the 12-member juries that hear felony cases.

A special grand jury called by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine investigating aspects of the Steubenville High School rape case returned the indictment against Gorman and three others in November.

Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Mike McVey was named in a five-count indictment charging one count of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice, both felonies. McVey was also indicted with two misdemeanors, including one count of falsification and one count of obstructing official business.

The indictment claims McVey allegedly committed crimes starting on April 5, 2012.

Seth Fluharty, a wrestling and conditioning coach and teacher at Garfield East Elementary School, was indicted on one count misdemeanor regarding reporting child abuse or neglect on Aug. 13.

The grand jury named former volunteer high school football coach Matthew Belardine on four misdemeanor counts, including allowing an underage person to consume beer or liquor, obstructing official business, falsification and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.

Attorney Scott A. Longo of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office will be prosecuting the Gorman case.

Columbus attorney Dennis McNamara is representing Gorman.

Visiting Summit County retired Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove will preside over the trial.

McNamara, who also is now representing Belardine, entered an innocent plea on behalf of Gorman at her arraignment on Dec. 13. McNamara did not waive the speedy trial requirement, forcing the Gorman case to quickly go to trial.

“We want a speedy trial because it is difficult for her to have this pending. We will request a jury trial and she wants to put this behind her,” McNamara stated, adding he anticipates a one-day trial.

“My understanding is she heard from a second- or third-hand person about a party in April where some kids were allegedly drinking. Lynette asked her son if he was at the party because she is a responsible parent. Her son told her he was not at the party and she made some phone calls to make sure her son wasn’t at the party. She also heard some of the kids at the party were involved in sexual conduct.

She was acting as a mom not as a school principal. She didn’t believe she was required to report the party,” McNamara told reporters after the arraignment hearing.

“Lynette Gorman has the confidence of the school board. They initially placed her on paid leave after the indictments were announced but after they saw the charges, they let her go back to work. She doesn’t want all of this attention. She was just trying to be a conscientious mother. She determined her son was not at the party and moved on,” added McNamara.

Longo has issued subpoenas for nine witnesses in the case: Anthony Craig and Mary Craig, both of 3200 Sunset Blvd.; Rachel Colflesh of 314 Braybarton Blvd.; Glenda Jones of the Jefferson County Job and Family Services Department; Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Agents Elio Lorussi, John Shea and Jean Phillipe Rigaud; Christine Ross, BCI analyst; and Joann Gibb, BCI computer forensic specialist.

Longo also is expected to play a recording of an oral statement Gorman made to investigators. Longo in court documents stated there is no written statement from Gorman.

There were no listed subpoenas from McNamara in the court file.

Two Steubenville High School students, Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays, were convicted of rape in 2013 in connection with the August 2012 rape of a Weirton teenage girl following a series of alcohol fueled parties.

Mays also was found delinquent of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for having a picture of the victim in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com)