CREDIT: Lake Fong/Post-Gazette
The Steubenville rape case — which made national headlines last spring, after graphic details came to light about a sexual assault involving several high school football players and an unconscious victim — isn’t over. Even though two high schoolers were found guilty of rape in March, a grand jury has been deliberating since then to figure out if any of the adults in the small Ohio town helped facilitate the crime by working to cover it up.
Now, that grand jury has made its first arrest. An Ohio school official, 53-year-old William Rhinaman, was jailed on Monday without bond.
Rhinaman worked as the director of technology at Steubenville High School. According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, he’s accused of four counts: tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business, and perjury in connection with his testimony about the case. DeWine was unable to elaborate about the details, and didn’t explain what type of evidence Rhinaman allegedly tampered with.
“This is the first indictment in an ongoing grand jury investigation,” DeWine said in a statement. “Our goal remains to uncover the truth, and our investigation continues.”
Last Friday, the grand jury met for the first time in the past six weeks. At that time, DeWine told reporters that he didn’t know how long the investigation would take. It’s not uncommon for grand juries to stretch on for months. It may have appeared to outsiders as if there wasn’t any movement on the investigation at all.
Bob Fitzsimmons, the attorney representing the 16-year-old girl who was raped, pointed out that Rhinaman’s indictment is a significant first step that sends a message to the public. “I think it’s important that this shows some fruits from the investigative grand jury, and also considers the importance of those responsible for reporting and/or preserving evidence after a crime is committed involving a child, in this case a girl 16 years of age,” Fitzsimmons told CNN.
If Rinaman is convicted, he could face up to four years in prison. That’s more jail time than Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the boys convicted of rape, are serving for their crimes. Since Mays and Richmond are both minors, they were sentenced to time in juvenile correctional facilities — Mays got two years, while Richmond received just one year behind bars.
Evidence presented at the trial also suggested that the high school’s beloved football coach, Reno Saccocia, may have also helped cover up the sexual assault. Multiple football players testified that they received texts from Mays and Richmond saying they weren’t worried about consequences for their crime because the coach would protect them. Nonetheless, Saccocia got a contract extension in April.