Saturday 21 April 2018

School staff face charges in US teen rape case

Protesters gathered in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio in January 2013
Protesters gathered in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio in January 2013

Associated Press

AN Ohio school superintendent, two coaches and a principal have been charged by a grand jury that investigated whether other laws were broken in the rape of a drunken 16-year-old girl by two football players.

The Steubenville case drew international attention after hacker activists pushed media coverage and alleged a cover-up. The two teenage football players were convicted of raping the girl after an alcohol-fuelled party in August 2012.

The crime shocked many because other students recorded the attack on their phones and gossiped about it online. The case came to light via morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.

The case has long been marked by allegations that more football players should have been charged and that police and prosecutors tried to cover up aspects of the case early on.

The grand jury investigated whether adults like coaches or school administrators knew of the rape allegation but failed to report it as required by state law.

"How do you hold kids accountable if you don't hold the adults accountable?" Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

The charges against the superintendent, Mike McVey, include felony counts of obstructing justice, Mr DeWine said. Mr McVey wasn't immediately available for comment.

A school principal, Lynnett Gorman (40), and a strength coach, Seth Fluharty (26), are charged with failing to report possible child abuse.

A former volunteer coach, Matthew Bellardine (26), faces several misdemeanour charges, including making false statements and contributing to underage alcohol consumption.

The grand jury earlier charged the Steubenville school's information technology director with tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and perjury.

Irish Independent

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