Officials charged with blocking rape inquiry

Last updated 08:19 26/11/2013

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A US 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, Ohio, case drew national 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-fueled party in August 2012.

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. Authorities countered that the two teens were arrested and charged within days of the attack.

The crime shocked many in Steubenville because of the seeming callousness with which other students took out their cellphones to record the attack and gossiped about it online. The case came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video.

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, DeWine said.

Principal, Lynnett Gorman, 40, and coach, Seth Fluharty, 26, were charged with failing to report possible child abuse.

Former volunteer coach, Matthew Bellardine, 26, faced several misdemeanor charges, including making false statements and contributing to underage alcohol consumption.

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

The panel also indicted that man's daughter on theft and receiving stolen property charges unrelated to the rape case. Both have pleaded not guilty.

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- AP

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