School employee pleads innocent

STEUBENVILLE – The Steubenville City School District employee accused of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and providing false testimony to a special grand jury investigating if additional crimes were committed related to the Steubenville teen rape case pleaded innocent Wednesday afternoon during his 15-minute arraignment hearing.

William Rhinaman was granted a $25,000 personal recognizance bond by visiting retired Summit County Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove.

Rhinaman was released from the Jefferson County jail shortly after the arraignment.

Cosgrove was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to preside over the special grand jury after Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese recused himself from the case.

Steubenville lawyer 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 a pre-trial hearing set for 11 a.m. Oct. 25.

“The court will look at the defendant’s financial assets and I will notify the Ohio Public Defender’s Office and ask if they will provide representation,” Cosgrove said.

Rhinaman arrived approximately 15 minutes early clad in a Jefferson County jail orange jumpsuit and wearing wrist and ankle cuffs. The wrist cuffs were removed by a sheriff’s deputy before the hearing.

The 53-year-old Mingo Junction resident sat at the defense table, both legs twitching throughout the hearing.

Lamatrice said he is concerned Rhinaman will not have the resources to defend himself.

“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 Ohio attorney general’s office was represented by three attorneys, including Scott Logo, William Schenck and Ashley Rodabaugh.

Rhinaman was indicted Friday and arrested Monday on charges he tampered with evidence, obstructed justice, obstructed official business and perjured himself during a six-month-long special grand jury investigation reviewing whether additional crimes were committed regarding the Steubenville teen rape case.

City School Superintendent Michael McVey said Tuesday afternoon Rhinaman had been immediately placed on a leave of absence. McVey was in the Jefferson County courtroom Wednesday afternoon and briefly shook Rhinaman’s hand as the defendant walked out of the room.