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Ex-coach who threw Steubenville drinking party to plead no contest

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 7:48 p.m.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A former volunteer coach whose house was the scene of an underage drinking party before the 2012 rape of a girl by two high school football players plans to plead no contest to charges connected to the case, law enforcement officials said Monday.

Defendant Matt Belardine is expected to plead no contest on Tuesday to one count of making a false statement and one count of enabling underage drinking, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Counts of obstructing official business and contributing to the delinquency of a child are expected to be dismissed, Tierney said.

A message left with Belardine's attorney seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.

Belardine was one of six people charged last year by a grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the case of the 16-year-old West Virginia girl who was raped after an alcohol-fueled house party in August 2012.

With Belardine's expected plea, four of those cases have been resolved. The players were convicted in March 2013 and sentenced to the state's juvenile detention system.

On April 11, DeWine announced that a teacher and coach charged with a single misdemeanor count of failure to report child abuse or neglect involving the rape will get the charge dismissed in exchange for community service at a domestic violence shelter.

In February, a former school worker pleaded guilty to stealing computer equipment in a case that arose from the grand jury investigation but wasn't related to the girl's rape.

In January, DeWine announced charges would be dropped against a Steubenville elementary school principal official in exchange for community service related to rape awareness. The principal was accused of failing to report rumors of a teenage sex and drinking party in April 2012 unrelated to the later rape.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled Tuesday for William Rhinaman, the Steubenville schools' former technology director, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of evidence tampering, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

Steubenville superintendent Mike McVey has pleaded not guilty to charges including obstructing justice and tampering with evidence and a misdemeanor charge alleging he made a false statement in April 2012.

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