Volunteer football coach in Steubenville rape case pleads guilty to violating probation

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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A volunteer football coach whose Ohio house was the scene of a party that preceded the rape of a girl by two high school football players pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating probation, a spokesman for the state attorney general said.

Matt Belardine pleaded guilty in a Steubenville court to four counts of violating probation, attorney general spokesman Dan Tierney said. Belardine admitted leaving the state without permission and going to a bar, consuming alcohol, and being arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct in Arizona, Tierney said.

Messages seeking comment were left Wednesday for Belardine's attorney.

Belardine was arrested last month in Arizona at a protest over the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting, according to media reports. Scottsdale authorities said Belardine was fighting with protesters.

Belardine "did not conduct himself as a 'responsible law abiding citizen' while in Scottsdale, Arizona," contrary to conditions of his probation, according to a filing in Jefferson County court this month by the attorney general's office.

Belardine pleaded no contest in April to one count of making a false statement and one count of enabling underage drinking. Charges of obstructing official business and contributing to the delinquency of a child were dismissed.

In that case, Special Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove suspended a six-month sentence, ordering Belardine to serve 10 days in jail, one year of supervision and 40 hours of community service. She also fined him $1,000.

For violating probation, prosecutors want the judge to sentence Belardine to serve the remainder of the six months, minus time already served, Tierney said.

The judge will continue hearing evidence Monday before sentencing Belardine. He was being held without bond pending the hearing.

Belardine was one of six people charged last year by a grand jury investigating whether other laws were broken in the case of the 16-year-old West Virginia girl who was raped after an alcohol-fueled house party in August 2012. Two football players were found delinquent in the rape case; one was sentenced to two years; the other was released after a one-year sentence and rejoined the football team this fall.

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