Indicted Steubenville schools official appears in court
STEUBENVILLE — The first person to be indicted by a special grand jury investigating the Steubenville rape case appeared in court on Friday for a pre-trial conference and told the judge he had trouble finding an attorney with enough knowledge about the case.
William Rhinaman, 53, who is on leave as director of technology for Steubenville City Schools, has pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence, perjury, obstructing justice and obstructing official business in connection with the August 2012 rape of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl by high school football players at a party. He was charged on Oct. 8.
The 14-member grand jury has been reviewing the rape case to determine whether adults — such as coaches or school administrators — knew about the rape and failed to report it to police. Prosecutors accuse Rhinaman of trying to conceal evidence.
Rhinaman told visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove that he hired attorney Neil Rubin of Akron, although Rubin was not at the hearing and could not be reached for comment. Rhinaman asked the judge for a continuance, saying Rubin's absence was because of paperwork delays.
It was “hard to find the correct attorney that had the technology skills,” as the case is expected to center on technological evidence, Rhinaman said.
He is due in court on Dec. 6, and the grand jury on Nov. 18.
Rhinaman's daughter, Hannah Rhinaman, 20, appeared in court on Friday to plead not guilty to theft charges as part of an indictment brought forth by the grand jury but unrelated to the rape case, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesman for state Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Hannah Rhinaman, who worked in the Steubenville schools computer labs, is charged with stealing and selling technology equipment.
“This grand jury, they are looking at everything. It's not even about the rape anymore,” said Stephen Lamatrice, lawyer for Hannah Rhinaman.
The rape case drew national attention when evidence of the attack circulated via social media and the hacker group Anonymous publicized a video of a partygoer joking about the assault.
Steubenville football players Ma'lik Richmond, 17, and Trenton Mays, 17, were convicted last year of raping the West Virginia girl.
Richmond was sentenced to a year in the juvenile detention system. Mays was sentenced to two years for his conviction on charges of rape and using his phone to take a picture of the girl naked.
Elizabeth Daley is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.