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Volunteer coach to plead no contest in Steubenville rape case

By Ross Levitt, CNN
updated 6:37 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Matt Belardine is set to plead no contest to serving alcohol to a minor and falsification
  • Each count carries a six-month maximum sentence
  • A schools technology director is also expected to appear in court on Tuesday
  • Two ex-football players were convicted of rape in 2013

(CNN) -- A volunteer assistant football coach at Steubenville High School in Ohio is expected to plead no contest Tuesday to two of the four counts he faces in connection with the rape case in the town that captured national attention, a spokesman with the state attorney general's office said.

Matt Belardine was charged with four misdemeanors: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making a false statement and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.

He will plead no contest to serving alcohol to a minor and falsification, Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's Office, told CNN on Monday. The other two counts are expected to be dismissed, Tierney said.

A judge would then decide whether to find Belardine guilty or not guilty. She would then have the option to sentence Belardine or order a pre-sentencing hearing, the spokesman said.

The counts to which Belardine is expected to plead each carry a six-month maximum sentence, said Tierney, adding that the judge has a great deal of discretion.

William Rhinaman, the director of technology for Steubenville City Schools, is also expected to appear in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing. He has been indicted on charges of tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, obstructing official business and perjury.

In January, one of two former high school football players convicted in the rape that shook the eastern Ohio community of Steubenville was released from juvenile detention.

Ma'lik Richmond was 16 when he was convicted last year of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville. Richmond had been sentenced to a minimum of one year in a juvenile correctional facility, but he was credited for the time he served before the trial.

Richmond and Steubenville High School football teammate Trenton Mays were convicted in March 2013 of the rape after a trial that divided the football-crazed Rust Belt town.

Lurid text messages, social media posts, as well as cell phone pictures and videos helped raise the national profile of the case, which revolved around Richmond and Mays' actions during a series of end-of-summer parties in August 2012. It attracted the attention of bloggers, who questioned everything from the behavior of the football team to the integrity of the investigation.

Mays, who was 17 when he was convicted, also was found guilty of disseminating a nude photo of a minor and was sentenced to two years.

Both Richmond and Mays have been classified as Tier II sex offenders and will be required to report to their local sheriff's office every six months for the next 20 years.

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