Ohio State finds itself a sideshow to an alleged rape that has forever changed an Ohio River-town and garnered national attention in recent weeks.
Steubenville, Ohio, which is about 150 miles east of Columbus, is in the spotlight after two 16-year-old Steubenville High School football players, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, were charged with raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last August.
While neither Richmond nor Mays attend the university, OSU has been pulled into the case in light of a video taken from the night of those parties, which features former OSU student and Steubenville High School graduate Michael Nodianos, talking and laughing about the alleged rape for more than 12 minutes.
The video, which can be found on YouTube under the title “Michael Nodianos confession #oprollredroll #occupysteubenville Steubenville rape case,” shows Nodianos wearing an OSU T-shirt making analogies that the alleged victim was “deader than” or was “raped harder than.”
After the video gained more than 270,000 views and a Facebook group titled “OSU expel Michael Nodianos ‘Rape Crew’ member” garnered more than 2,600 “likes,” OSU issued a statement Friday addressing the situation in Steubenville and the university’s connection to it.
While the university would not comment on the case because of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, the school confirmed through its statement that “the student in question” was in attendance at the university “only through Dec. 12,” the last day of OSU’s Fall Semester final examinations.
OSU spokeswoman Gayle Saunders would not confirm whether Nodianos is enrolled for Spring Semester or if he left the university.
The school is not the only public entity to respond to the flood of information surrounding the still-unraveling case.
A website titled “Steubenville Facts,” which is sponsored by the City of Steubenville and Steubenville Police Department, was created Saturday in an attempt to separate fact from fiction regarding the case.
While the site does not address Nodianos by name, it does touch on the viral video in which he plays a part in a post headlined as “Governance, Jurisdiction and Ohio Law.”
Though Nodianos does not face criminal charges for his 12-minute commentary, some have argued that he should answer to some semblance of disciplinary measures.
The website, however, attempts to dismiss that notion.
“Nothing in Ohio’s criminal statutes makes it a crime for someone to ridicule a rape victim on a video or otherwise say horrible things about another person,” the post reads. “Steubenville Police investigators are caring humans who recoil and are repulsed by many of the things they observe during an investigation … they are often frustrated when they emotionally want to hold people accountable for certain detestable behavior but realize that there is no statute that allows a criminal charge to be made.”
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is prosecuting the case, told The Lantern that the investigation of the matter is ongoing.
“We cannot comment whether any additional charges are being considered, or if additional charges have been ruled out,” Tierney said in an email.
DeWine, who told 10TV he watched the video in its entirety, called it “disgusting” Friday.
“We will prosecute anyone who we believe is guilty of a crime. That’s all I can say at this point,” DeWine told 10TV.
Like DeWine, Adam Martello, a Steubenville native and third-year OSU student in economics, found the video jarring.
“It’s disgusting,” said Martello, a graduate of Steubenville Catholic Central High School. “The longer you watch it, the angrier you get. It’s vile.”
Martello, though, wasn’t sure that Nodianos deserves to face criminal charges.
“I’m a firm believer in the justice system we have and I don’t think that people should be charged just because people want them to be charged with something,” he said. “If he committed a crime, then he should be charged.”
While Nodianos did not respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment, “Find People,” the school’s faculty, staff and student directory, showed on Thursday that Nodianos was a student in electrical and computer engineering. His information in “Find People,” however,
has been rendered inaccessible since Friday as his name no longer yields results.
According to The New York Times, Richmond and Mays are under house arrest and awaiting a trial that has been set for Feb. 13.