School employee pleads not guilty

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 not guilty Wednesday afternoon during his 15-minute arraignment hearing.

William Rhinaman was granted a $25,000 signature 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 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 Defenders Office for a pre-trial hearing set for 11 a.m. on Oct. 25.

“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,” Cosgrove said.

Rhinamam arrived approximately 15 minutes early for his arraignment proceeding, 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.

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.”

Rhinaman also told the court he and his wife “are under water with our house. We owe more than the house is worth.”

He said he has approximately $1,500 in savings.

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

“Local law firms are looking at a retainer between $20,000 and $50,000. He will also need expert testimony and will need the resources to properly defend himself,” stated Lamatrice.

“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, responded Coverings.

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 announced 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.