04-29-2017  10:44 am      •     
The Wake of Vanport
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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (CNN) -- One of the teens who recorded himself mocking the girl at the center of an Ohio rape case "did a really dumb thing and regrets it" but did not commit any crime, his lawyer said Monday.

The attorney, Dennis McNamara, said there was "no excuse or justification" for the jokes Michael Nodianos made, "and with some sober reflection, he is ashamed and embarrassed to hear them himself."



"He sincerely regrets his behavior and his comments and the effect that it's had on the parties involved, including his own family," McNamara told reporters in Steubenville, the small Ohio town that has become the focus of national attention because of the case. "He was not raised to act in this manner."

Two 16-year-old members of the town's powerhouse high school football team are charged with sexually assaulting a girl after a series of parties in August. They are set for trial in a juvenile court in February.

McNamara said Nodianos, 18, has been interviewed by detectives "at some length" and is not the subject of an investigation.

"Michael is a really good kid from a really good family who did a really dumb thing and regrets it," he said. "Beyond that, he has no involvement in the criminal case or in any of the underlying activity that led to the filing of the criminal charges."

The case gained national attention after The New York Times published a lengthy piece on it in December. The activist hacker group Anonymous and other critics have accused community leaders of trying to paper over rampant misconduct by football players, and suggested that other students took part in the assaults or failed to do enough stop them. Anonymous helped organize a weekend protest in Steubenville that drew a crowd of hundreds to the town, a community of about 18,000 on the Ohio River across the river from West Virginia.

Then last week, Anonymous posted the 12-minute video that featured Nodianos -- a video the attorney said had been taken offline in the days following the incident. In it, he makes joke after joke about the girl's condition, saying she must have died because she didn't move during one assault.

McNamara said the video had been recorded in the pre-dawn hours following the parties. Nodianos was drunk, "but that's not a justification or excuse," his lawyer said.

McNamara said Nodianos wasn't at the house where the alleged rape took place, nor did he witness anything himself: The details he recounted "came from the reports of a couple of other young people that had been present or had seen these things, or at least claimed to."

McNamara said his client graduated from Steubenville High in 2012. He had perfect attendance, played on the school's baseball team and won an academic scholarship to Ohio State University.

Nodianos was enrolled at OSU in the fall but has left college for the time being, McNamara said. Meanwhile, he said, hackers have gotten into Nodianos's e-mail, his parents e-mail accounts and reactivated his closed-down Twitter account. They and are posting new tweets, "but he has nothing to do with that," McNamara said.

The defendants in the rape case, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, are both 16. Their attorneys have said both teens are not guilty, and say they will seek to get the trial moved because of the excessive publicity the case has received. Both are charged with rape, while Mays faces an additional charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

At an October hearing, witnesses say they saw the girl stumbling, vomiting and eventually unconscious, having to be carried by the hands and feet. One of the witnesses said she didn't respond when Richmond performed a sexual act on her in the basement of another student's home.

CNN is not identifying the girl, a juvenile, in accordance with its policy not to release the names of alleged rape victims. Although the suspects also are juveniles, CNN is identifying them because they have been publicly named by a juvenile court judge, by defense attorneys and in media accounts.

CNN's Gary Tuchman in Steubenville and Marlena Baldacci in Atlanta contributed to this report.

 

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