A state investigation, which began in September 2015, found that after completing a research project with the Department of Transportation, Atalah then returned an external hard drive containing research files. Unbeknownst to him, those files also included explicit material he'd been perusing. (That file was innocuously titled "Conversations.doc.")
The Associated Press reported that while federal authorities determined Atalah did nothing illegal, Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer said that Atalah violated school policy by having these materials on his government-owned computer. Atalah's explanation, via the AP:
Under questioning by investigators, Atalah suggested that he didn’t write the sexually explicit stories but sometimes read them for entertainment.
“Is it possible that I copied it and put it in, it’s possible, I probably did that a few times,” Atalah told them.
The report said he added, “Everybody has personal stuff . I don’t do anything that is illegal. I don’t consider this illegal . For me it’s just entertainment for a short period of time or entertainment for whatever.”
In a follow-up email, Atalah told investigators he hadn’t read the original story in question until after he talked with them. He said when he tried to read the story he “was sickened” by its contents.
Along with the files sent to the Transportation Department, other erotic materials were later discovered on Atalah's work laptop (including ones he'd tried to delete).
The university now has 60 days to release a formal response on the matter.