The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Steubenville ‘Rape Crew’? Non-Facts Smear the Innocent in an Ohio Town

Posted on | January 15, 2013 | 93 Comments

Michael Nodianos in the now-infamous Aug. 12 video

“Michael didn’t know the Jane Doe in this case. . . . He left the party around midnight on Saturday, went to McDonald’s and then to a friend’s house. She was leaving just a few moments after he arrived at the second house. He saw her leave with two guys. . . . There were three witnesses to the alleged rape at a third house and two of them came back to the house where Michael made the 12-minute video at around 2 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. People at the other house came back and talked about what happened. The kid shooting the video of Michael was not a witness to the alleged rape. The video was made at a friend’s house and not at the house where the alleged incident occurred.”
Dennis McNamara, attorney for Michael Nodianos

“An Ohio State University freshman shown in a video joking about a teenage girl allegedly raped by two high school football players will not be returning to school for the spring semester, his attorney says. . . .
“[S]omeone has hacked into his client’s email and social media accounts and the email accounts of his family members. . . .
“McNamara said people [had] attempted to find Nodianos’ class schedule and even came to his dormitory looking for him.”

CBS News

How did a sexual assault case involving three 16-year-olds — a girl and her two accused attackers — turn into a digital lynch-mob that has forced Michael Nodianos to drop out of college and defamed the entire town of Steubenville, Ohio? Lee Stranahan has been examining those questions, and a disturbing “story behind the story” is now beginning to emerge, which the national media seem reluctant to address.

Stranahan’s item headlined “Steubenville Rape Case: Everything You Know Is Wrong” identifies misinformation that has circulated about the case, including the unsubstantiated claim that there is (or was) a cover-up which bloggers and Anonymous hackers exposed.

Let’s start with the notorious 12-minute video in which Nodianos, an academic scholarship student who graduated from Steubenville in June, jokes about the alleged victim in the case. As Stranahan has pointed out (“Steubenville Probable Cause Transcript: The Infamous Video“) this video has been both the subject and source of much mythology about the case. Some believe that the video was recorded at the scene of the alleged rape, that Nodianos was a witness to (or participant in) the alleged rape and that nobody knew about the video until it was posted online by Anonymous — all of which is wrong, wrong, wrong:

  • The video was recorded in the basement of a home where, as Nadianos’s attorney explained, the girl had left about two hours before the video was recorded.
  • The alleged sexual assault(s) occurred in a car en route to another party, and also at that party at another home.
  • Detectives were aware of the video, as court transcripts make clear, by Aug. 14 or 15 — just two or three days after the alleged attack.

Keep in mind Stranahan’s caveat about his reporting: “This is not defending the suspects or attacking the accuser.

Why did Nodianos become such an object of hate? Well, he made cruel jokes on the video about how drunk the girl was. He had seen her briefly — before she left for the third party she attended that night — in a state of extreme intoxication. The New York Times, Dec. 17:

At the parties, the girl had so much to drink that she was unable to recall much from that night, and nothing past midnight, the police said. The girl began drinking early on, according to an account that the police pieced together from witnesses, including two of the three Steubenville High athletes who testified in court in October. By 10 or 10:30 that night, it was clear that the dark-haired teenager was drunk because she was stumbling and slurring her words, witnesses testified.
Some people at the party taunted her, chanted and cheered as a Steubenville High baseball player dared bystanders to urinate on her, one witness testified.
About two hours later, the girl left the party with several Big Red football players, including Mays and Richmond, witnesses said. They stayed only briefly at a second party before leaving for their third party of the night. Two witnesses testified that the girl needed help walking. One testified that she was carried out of the house by Mays and Richmond while she was “sleeping.”

Nodianos joked that the girl was so drunk she was “dead” and, at one point in the video, suggests that anyone who had sex with the girl in that condition was guilty of “necrophilia.” But it must be emphasized that Nodianos was neither a participant in nor a witness to the alleged assault. As cruel and tasteless as his jokes were, he was not guilty of a crime, nor did he have any first-hand knowledge of a crime.

What has happened in the past three weeks — since Anonymous “released what its members called a ‘partial dox,’” as Michelle Dean of the New Yorker reported — is that a witch-hunt mentality of collective guilt has developed around the case. Alexander Abad-Santos of the Atlantic:

The hackers . . . seem to believe that there are more people involved, that there are more victims, that the accused are getting special treatment because they are football players, and that there’s a bigger group of boys involved, which Anonymous has dubbed the “Rape Crew.”

These unsubstantiated claims about a “Rape Crew,” which allegedly involves many more people than the two Steubenville High School students who will face trial next month, are wildly irresponsible. As the Steubenville police chief told the New York Times in December:

“Everybody on those Web sites kept saying stuff that wasn’t true and saying, ‘Why wasn’t this person arrested? Why aren’t the police doing anything about it?’ ” he said. “Everybody wanted to incriminate more of the football players . . .”

John Ziegler appeared Monday on CNN Headline News and said:

“All of this information on social media that has come from this Anonymous Internet hacking group has been bogus, fraudulent, slanderous, libelous. They have committed at least nine felonies, according to one Ohio prosecutor. . . . They are frauds. Almost everything they have said has been false. They have ginned up an enormous amount of false media coverage and a false narrative has been created to destroy a town and there are many innocent victims here.”

Lee Stranahan continues reporting on the story:

It seems that we may be witnessing a typical case of media malpractice, in which a crew of irresponsible bloggers and “hacktivists” are ginning up false accusations without regard for truth, and without concern for the harm done to innocent citizens of Steubenville.

UPDATE: Lee Stranahan has posted excerpts of the testimony at the October hearing, to clarify when, where and by whom the girl was allegedly assaulted. Claims that the victim was “dragged [by the suspects] to three separate parties during the course of the night as their personal rape toy” (The Nation) or “gang raped and dragged from party to party” (Salon) are simply not substantiated by the testimony.

No one “dragged” her to the first party (she attended with girlfriends). She was not “dragged” from that party (she voluntarily left with Trent Mays and others), and there wasn’t really much of a “party” at the second home they visited, where they stayed only about 20 minutes, most of which time the girl was vomiting. The teenagers were asked to leave that home and the girl had to be carried out because she was passed out. According to testimony, it was only then — en route to the third party of the night, and at that party — that the girl was allegedly assaulted. And witnesses said the “gang rape” involved only the two 16-year-old boys who have been charged in the case.

There is a vast difference between (a) the specific crimes alleged in the testimony, and (b) the misleading impression created by certain media reports that the girl was the victim of repeated gang rapes.



  • Rob Crawford

    What? Anonymous getting everything wrong?!

    Compared to what passes for humor on the home of Anonymous, “4chan”, what that kid said is saintly.

  • Ann

    Ok, let’s say Nodi’s video is completely from what the others told him happened and he was not involved in anyway. If that is the case this young man is still VERY disturbed at the very least needs deep psychological help. It doesn’t matter if he was intoxicated or not this young man is a woman hater. He will abuse women his entire life. I personally believe at the very least he witnessed what happened, I really think it’s more likely he participated. He had too many graphic details. He is a product of the environment he grew up in, shame on any adults that were a part of his upbringing. Shame on HIM.
    It’s HIS video that put Stubenville in the spotlight.
    The rape culture needs to be talked about. The way people talk and treat the victims of rape has got to change.
    My wish for this teenage victim is to get the help she needs to be emotionally healthy have a productive life and eventually help other rape victims.

  • Karen Williams


  • Karen Williams

    Another rape apologist steeped in the patriarchial culture of misogyny and its institutions like football. P.S. Nodiamos smeared himself.

  • Karen Williams

    I agree, he had too many graphic details, and in the present tense.

  • MrPaulRevere

    Have you ever considered the possibility that Stranahan and McCain are motivated by a desire to expose the truth? And you Karen Williams obviously have an agenda: ” patriarchial culture of misogyny and its institutions like football.” Verdict first, trial later right Karen Williams?

  • echosyst

    For the life of me I don’t understand why right-wing bloggers are trying to come to the defense of this kid. Everybody knows he wasn’t involved in the rape as a perpetrator but clearly he knew what was going on. Instead of going to the authorities he gives a rambling monologue about how funny he though it was. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t at the house it occurred. He also wasn’t that drunk, not that it would excuse anything anyway. He is a disgusting piece of crap who deserved to ostracized.

  • h mantella

    the facts are that for some reason i can’t understand all the conservatives are coming to the defence of a bunch of crooked democrats.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Well put.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Of course, I’m known for my hatred of women…

  • Bob Belvedere

    Bravo, Stacy and Lee. The Truth will out because of responsible people like you.

  • Algiers50

    “Almost everything they have said has been false. They have ginned up an enormous amount of false media coverage and a false narrative has been created to destroy a town and there are many innocent victims here.”

    And the mainstream media also doesn’t routinely do this?
    (Think “Duke lacrosse”.)

  • Are you serious

    You must be kidding. You are trusting the foul mouth kid and his lawyer? I have great swamp land to sell you. He talks about the rape victim as if he was there. So he was telling lies then but not now. Wow. What a piece of crap. So I guess you are a defender of rapes? Real laughing matter…

  • Are you serious

    I love your sense of humor. So funny. Stacy and Lee the TRUTH FIGHTERS. hahahahahahahaah

  • Are you serious

    After your defense of this guy I can agree with this statement.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Can’t take you serious because you refuse to leave a name.

  • Rob Crawford

    Lynch mob, much?

  • Rob Crawford

    No, rape is NOT a “hate crime”. It’s a violent crime.

    GOD I hate you idiots who have to act like every goddamned thing is “hate”. “Hate” is the least element of rape — it’s the violence and the enslavement that make it a crime; it’s the forcefully taking control of their body away from another person.

  • Rob Crawford

    “Zero tolerance for rapists and their sympathizers”?

    So you oppose the Democrat party?

  • Rob Crawford

    Because we value truth,

  • Rob Crawford

    So we must be willing to see everyone who is ACCUSED of rape lynched in order to not be “defending” rapes?

    Kathleen Willey would like to talk to you.

  • Wombat_socho

    After your reply to Bob I can see that you don’t grasp the concept of sarcasm,. Bye now.

  • Wombat_socho

    They do, but they’re not the root of the problem here.

  • Wombat_socho

    And now you don’t have to pay any attention to them at all.

  • Heather Kane

    We are supposed to believe the witness testimony is fact? I don’t think any of the witnesses are very credible, and it sounds to me like Nadainos had first hand knowledge of the crime… In the video people go to check on the girl who Nadainos claims is “so dead”. Isn’t it a crime to even be a witness to something like this and not report it? A girl being too drunk to consent is also a crime. It does not give men a right to take advantage, although apparently people believe this is okay in our society. Take a look at the twitter accounts of the people involved, and what they said around the dates of the alleged rape. I even found the victims twitter account, harder to come across, but came upon it when look at the others. Several friends apologized how they were so sorry about what happened, she didn’t deserve it, etc. This should not be written off as a drunk girl who wanted to gangbang the football team.

  • DUDE

    I think you forgot the part in the video when Nodianos said, over and over again, the girl was “raped”, and that even some of the guys there todl him “fi that was your sister you wouldn’t say that”.

  • Pingback: Stupid Teenagers are Stupid « Andrew J. Patrick()

  • Lee Stranahan

    So you don’t agree with the prosecution? Interesting…

    You’d use the Nodianos video as your main exhibit if you were prosecuting? That’ll be a great strategy, since not a single witness would agree with your theory.

  • K-Bob

    True. But there’s a heapin’ helpin’ of “complicit” that they own.

  • sarah

    Why dies he ask about the dead girl in the other room if he wasn’t there with her? Even if he didn’t engage in the rape he should still be kick out of OSU and lose his scholarship based on their own Code of conduct. I have no sympathy for him.

  • K-Bob

    Your cartoonish portrayal of intoxication is the basis for all of this? Not every drunk sounds like Ted Kennedy, you know.

  • sarah

    How about everyone that doesn’t report a rape and Instead laughs at it?

  • sarah

    VIolence and hate go hand in hand.

  • K-Bob

    “Dead girl”?

  • Rob Crawford

    No, they don’t.

  • Rob Crawford

    “should still be kick out of OSU and lose his scholarship”

    So you’d ruin a kid’s life for being tasteless on camera.

  • Rob Crawford

    He didn’t know anything about a rape. He was laughing at an idiot getting pathetically drunk.

  • Rob Crawford

    And — I almost forgot — by your standard, you want to lynch Bill Clinton.

  • sarah

    He ruined his own life. He’s an adult and he knew the rules before he agreed to go to OSU.

  • sarah

    There’s a video of him talking about the girl being “dead” in the other room and asking the other guys there how they felt being a room away from a ‘dead girl’.

  • sarah

    He said she was raped. In fact that’s almost all he said.

  • sarah

    Unless you’re talking about slapstick comedy or accidents they really do. You don’t hurt people you like on purpose.

  • Karen Williams

    Social media to smear? That’s what the town’s royalty did to the victim, they used social media to smear the victim of multiple repugnant crimes. Talk about that you misogynists.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    I remember when the worst that would happen to a young person who drank too much at a party was that they might get drawn on with lipstick or markers. Gosh how times change, and always, it seems, for the worse.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Why are you trashing SMITTY? You’re wrong for your attacks against Stacy too, but Smitty didn’t write the above article. You are just making yourself look ignorant by attacking Smitty, who is well known as a decent and upright GENTLEMAN.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    I’ve never known you to be anything less than a true gentleman with the ladies, Bob.

  • K-Bob

    Notice that people are down-dinging “the truth.”

    Another case where actions speak loudest of all.

  • K-Bob

    I see you’ve taken self defense off the table.

    Why do you hate women?

  • sarah

    I don’t understand.You don’t rape in self defense.

  • Theresam

    A ridiculous statement if ever I heard one