School worker free on bond

STEUBENVILLE – William Rhinaman, the Steubenville City School District director of technology, was freed on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond Wednesday afternoon, but the Mingo Junction resident is now preparing for his next court appearance in two weeks.

Rhinaman entered a not guilty plea to a four-count indictment accusing the 53-year-old of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

He was the first person indicted by a special grand jury investigating if additional crimes were committed related to the Steubenville teen rape.

Visiting retired Summit County Judge Patricia Cosgrove granted the personal recognizance bond but ordered Rhinaman to stay in regular contact with his attorney and to appear for the pre-trial hearing set for 11 a.m. on Oct. 25.

Rhinaman appeared nervous, his legs twitching as he sat alone at the defense table for approximately 25 minutes before the judge and attorneys entered the courtroom.

He also was the center of attention for local and regional media cameras that were focused on Rhinaman.

Following the arraignment, Rhinaman, wearing a Jefferson County orange jumpsuit and ankle cuffs, was escorted to the clerk of courts office a few feet from the courtroom where he signed documents to be released from the jail.

Rhinaman was arrested Monday afternoon by Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents and taken directly to the county jail on a no bond order.

One of his first tasks today will be to start preparing a detailed financial asset report for the court as Cosgrove consider’s Rhinaman’s request for a court-appointed attorney.

Steubenville attorney Stephen Lamatrice represented Rhinaman during the arraignment hearing but told the judge Rhinaman would need a court-appointed attorney or legal representation from the Ohio Public Defender’s Office for the Oct. 25 pre-trial hearing.

“The court will look at the defendant’s financial assets and I will notify the Ohio Public Defenders Office and ask if they will provide representation. The court will consider all of this. If the defendant does not have the resources or cash, the court might consider appointing an attorney and require the defendant to repay Jefferson County after the case is over,” Cosgrove said.

The director of technology for the city school district said he has an annual income of $67,000 a year, “but I don’t know if I will be paid while I am on leave. I have not talked to my supervisors since I was arrested Monday.”

Steubenville School Superintendent Michael McVey had issued a press release Tuesday afternoon indicating Rhinaman was placed on a leave of absence.

McVey later said Rhinaman will continue to be paid his $67,000 annual salary while he is on leave of absence.

McVey was in the courtroom during the hearing and briefly shook Rhinaman’s hand as the defendant was escorted from the room.

Three prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s office remained silent during the arraignment except to note they had no objection to the personal recognizance bond. They left the courthouse without commenting.

The special grand jury is expected to convene again later this month as the 14-member panel continues to investigate whether adults like coaches or school administrators knew of allegations stemming from an August 2012 rape of a Weirton teenage girl by two Steubenville High School students but failed to report it as required by state law.

Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays were convicted of rape charges in Jefferson County Juvenile Court in March, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine immediately announced a special grand jury would be called to investigate other issues in the case.

Ohio BCI agents seized electronic evidence in April during unannounced visits to Steubenville High School, the school district administrative offices and the Harding Stadium fieldhouse.

DeWine said this week the investigation is continuing and will meet again.

“The grand jury work is not done and the panel will continue to meet. Our goal is to find the truth. Some investigations take time and this investigation is ongoing. I am not going to speculate on future indictments. That wouldn’t be fair. But the grand jury will continue meeting. This is certainly not the end of our investigation. The special grand jury will meet again this month and they could very well be in session for more than one day. Additional testimony will be taken and evidence will be examined,” DeWine said Tuesday.