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Ohio State distances itself from recent Steubenville rape case controversy

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Michael Nodianos is no longer an official Buckeye.
The Steubenville High School graduate’s role in a video at the heart of an alleged rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, is “no longer a student at The Ohio State University,” according to the school’s Facebook and Twitter pages Monday.
OSU spokeswoman Gayle Saunders confirmed to The Lantern Nodianos was no longer enrolled but would not disclose the terms of his leave, citing Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations.
OSU released a statement Friday that said “the student in question was in attendance only through Dec. 12,” the last day of the university’s final examinations. Saunders reiterated that statement to The Lantern Sunday, as well.
“Find People,” the school’s faculty, staff and student directory, showed Thursday that Nodianos was a student in electrical and computer engineering.
Nodianos, who has not been charged criminally, did not respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment.
Nodianos’ involvement in the Steubenville case, a town of about 18,000 along the Ohio River, has pulled OSU into a situation that’s increasingly garnered national attention in recent weeks.
The video – taken from an August night of back-to-school parties where, allegedly, 16-year-old Steubenville High School football players Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays raped an unconscious girl — shows Nodianos talking and laughing about the alleged rape for more than 12 minutes.
Some found the video so offensive that it prompted a Facebook group titled, “OSU expel Michael Nodianos ‘Rape Crew’ member,” which amassed more than 3,000 “likes” by Monday evening.
The video itself, which can be found on YouTube under various names, shows Nodianos, wearing an OSU T-shirt, talking and laughing about the alleged incident.
Nodianos makes several analogies that the alleged victim was “deader than” or was “raped harder than” as most voices off-camera laugh at his comments. Some rebuke him for his choice of words.
Nodianos is reportedly being represented by Dennis McNamara. The attorney held a press conference with members of the media in Steubenville Monday. He did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment.
At the press conference, though, McNamara said there was “no excuse” or “justification” for Nodianos’ comments.
McNamara said Nodianos was not at the house at the time of the crimes and said his client could not stop the alleged rape because he found out after the fact.
McNamara told reporters there that Nodianos decided to leave OSU because of “insurmountable distraction” and confirmed that his client attended OSU on an academic scholarship. That scholarship, McNamara said, would be honored if Nodianos chooses to return to the university in the future.
Yet it appears some OSU students are confused as to whether Nodianos left on his own terms. While the university did not confirm why Nodianos, some students seemed to think he was forced out.
Samantha Arrowsmith, a second-year in psychology, applauded Nodianos’ departure from the university and said she believed the Steubenville High School graduate was forced out.
“The kid that got kicked out of Ohio State, I’m happy about that … I wouldn’t want someone here that was like that,” she said.
There is, however, no known evidence to suggest that Nodianos was expelled by OSU nor is there any formal indication that he will face criminal charges.
“I wasn’t aware that a student here had been involved at all,” said Nathan Cotton, a first-year in public affairs. “If he hasn’t officially been arrested or charged with anything, it might be a little premature for them to permanently expel because I guess, innocent until charged or proven guilty.”
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is prosecuting the case, told The Lantern that the investigation of the situation regarding Nodianos 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.
While DeWine’s office is heading the case, the U.S. Justice Department is going to involve itself in the matter, according to WTOV9, an NBC affiliate covering the Ohio Valley.
According to The New York Times, Richmond and Mays are under house arrest and awaiting a trial that has been set for Feb. 13.

Dan Hope and Lauren Clark contributed to this story.
 

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