Prosecutors agreed to drop a misdemeanor charge against a Steubenville City Schools principal in a last-minute agreement.
Lynnett Gorman was scheduled to stand trial beginning Wednesday on one count of failure to report child abuse in connection with the April 2012 sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl by a group of high school baseball players.
The charge will be dismissed by June 1 if Gorman completes 40 hours of community service and speaks to teachers and administrators in the Ohio school district about recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.
The West Elementary School principal had previously pleaded not guilty to the charge, and Judge Patricia Cosgrove read a statement in court Wednesday indicating that Gorman believed she had not committed a crime.
“She also believes that if she had the ability to go back to April, 2012, she would have acted differently,” the statement read. “School teachers and administrators should always err on the side of caution when the interests of the children are at stake.”
Gorman is one of six people indicted by a special grand jury empaneled by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine after two teenage football players – Trenton Mays and Ma’lik Richmond – were convicted of raping another teen at party.
Richmond was released from a juvenile detention center last week on good behavior after serving nine months of his one-year sentence, but Mays remains jailed.
Gorman was suspended with pay after her indictment in November, but the school board later allowed her to return to work.
DeWine said the settlement reached in Gorman’s case was beneficial to all parties involved.
“The reality is that because the charge was a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and she has no prior record, had this case gone to trial, the most that could possibly come out of this is that she would have been sentenced to a short amount of jail time, with no acknowledgement that she did things wrong and no ability to move forward,” DeWine said. “We want to change the culture. This is about the long-term healing of the community.”
Four others, including Steubenville Superintendent Mike McVey, remain under indictment in connection with the sexual assault case, but no trial dates have been set.
[Image: Steubenville protest 010512 by roniweb via Flickr CC]