As expected, more indictments have resulted from a grand jury inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville last year. For months, publicity regarding the rape and the subsequent conviction of two star players on the Steubenville High School football team have placed the city and its beloved team in the national spotlight. Amid allegations of a cover-up and special treatment of teenage athletes, activists protesting sexual violence launched an Internet campaign to bring the boys and others to trial.
Mike DeWine, the Ohio attorney general, convened a grand jury in March to examine the conduct of school administrators and other adults in relation to the rape. On Monday, he brought charges against the superintendent of the Steubenville schools, the strength coach and a volunteer coach for the football team. Charges were also filed against an elementary school principal alleging failure to report an unrelated sexual-assault incident. The new indictments follow charges brought earlier against the former director of technology for the high school.
An intoxicated girl was sexually assaulted at parties where underage students had access to alcohol, with images of the episode circulated on social media. School officials denied they had tried to cover up any criminal conduct by members of the football team. The indictments indicate otherwise. The charges leveled against the officials include tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, failure to report child abuse and making false statements.
The charges reiterate the importance of holding adults in supervisory positions to strict account for their roles in this sordid incident. The accused have an opportunity to defend themselves in court. It is clear, all the same, that there was a breakdown in supervision that August evening last year, and teenagers veered into despicable criminal conduct. In pressing charges, DeWine appropriately emphasized the critical responsibility of parents as well as school officials to set boundaries of appropriate behavior for the young people in their charge.