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Ohio school workers plead not guilty to rape case charges

– Four eastern Ohio school workers entered not guilty pleas Friday to charges stemming from a grand jury investigation into alleged crimes spurred by the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two high school football players.

The four include Mike McVey, Steubenville’s top school official, whose attorney promised to fight the charges.

“We are confident that we are going to prevail in these cases and prove they’re unfounded,” said McVey’s attorney, Charles Bean. “This was an investigation that went nine months, and this is all they have?”

Special Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove accepted the not guilty pleas Friday and let the four remain free without bond.

McVey and three others are charged with trying to thwart the investigation into the August 2012 rape of the West Virginia girl by the football players. The players were convicted in March and sentenced to the state’s juvenile detention system.

McVey is Steubenville’s superintendent. The others are former Steubenville schools’ technology director William Rhinaman, football team strength coach Seth Fluharty and volunteer football coach Matt Belardine.

According to a Steubenville police report, a possible sexual assault of a minor sometime in April 2012 was reported to police on Sept. 3, 2012, after the allegations involving the other girl emerged.

The football players’ rape of the 16-year-old girl drew nationwide attention because of allegations that prosecutors should have charged more people.

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