The Ohio State University student who has found himself at the center of a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, has dropped out of school after being bombarded by threats in the wake of a video posted online in which he is seen making crude jokes about the case.
Michael Nodianos hasn’t been charged with a crime in connection to the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by two members of the Steubenville High School football team in August. The case ignited a firestorm of controversy and national attention after hackers affiliated with the group Anonymous began breaking into the websites and email accounts of several football players and locals. The hackers believed these people had gotten off too lightly.
Nodianos was one of the targets of the hackers, whose Twitter handles are @KYAnonymous and @justbatcat. In a video posted on the Internet, supposedly filmed shortly after the alleged attack, Nodianos repeatedly refers to the alleged rape victim as “dead” repeatedly.
“Why isn’t she waking up? She’s dead,” the teenager says.
“They peed on her. That’s how you know she’s dead, because someone pissed on her,” he says and, later in the video, “She is so raped right now.”
Nodianos doesn’t describe seeing an actual crime or attending the party where the alleged sexual assault occurred.
Investigators interviewed the 18-year-old at length after being made aware of the video, said Nodianos’s attorney, Dennis McNamara, at a press conference Monday afternoon. McNamara said investigators determined Nodianos was not present when the alleged assault occurred.
“He had no firsthand knowledge of anything,” McNamara said. “There were three witnesses, at least at the location where the alleged crimes occurred, and all three confirmed Michael was not there. He has not been subpoenaed or asked by either side to be a witness in the pending juvenile case.”
McNamara said Nodianos did not know the alleged victim and has “since been told” he was at a house were one of the assaults allegedly occurred.
Yet Nodianos’s comments in the video have continued to haunt Nodianos. His family has received threats, and his Twitter account, email, and Facebook page were all hacked, along with the email accounts of his parents and grandparents, according to McNamara. Someone set up a fake Twitter account claiming to be Nodianos and continued to tweet offensive things about the case from it, he added.
“There were people trying to find his class schedule at OSU, trying to access him there,” McNamara said. “Some have even been at the dormitory during the fall term looking for him.”
Nodianos, who was drunk when he made the video, is “ashamed” of his behavior that night, “after some sober reflection,” his attorney said.
“He sincerely regrets the behavior. He was not raised to act in this manner… it really is just poor judgment.”
McNamara said Nodianos still has an athletic scholarship at OSU but isn’t sure what his future plans at the university are.