Steubenville Rape Case

Steubenville Rape Case

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Updated Apr 02, 2014 at 07:58PM EDT by Brad.

Added Jan 07, 2013 at 05:25PM EST by amanda b..

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Overview

Steubenville Rape Case refers to the trial of two Steubenville High School student athletes who have been charged with alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl from Weirton, West Virginia in August 2012. Due to its highly publicized nature, the case has become a notable topic of discussions on social networking sites and other online communities.

Background

On August 22nd, 2012, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two football players from Steubenville High School in Ohio, were arrested[5] and charged with alleged rape and kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl from Weirton, West Virginia at a party on August 11th.The kidnapping charge was subsequently dropped[24] and the trial is scheduled for February 13th, 2013. However, as of January 6th, attorneys are attempting to postpone and relocate the trial after the backlash caused by the social media attention.[25]

When her parents went to the Steubenville police on August 14th, they came with a flash drive containing the photographs, screenshots of the tweets and a video in which a former Steubenville baseball player was shown discussing a rape.

Notable Developments

August 2012: Blog Coverage

Following the local news report of the arrests, a few bloggers began discussing the case online, including Ohio-based crime blogger Alexandria Goddard[2] who began detailing the case on her personal blog on August 24th. Goddard’s posts highlighted tweets[3] about the events and a YouTube vlog[4] tagged with “rape” and “drunk girl” that she had found on the social media accounts of the two boys. In October, she was sued for defamation[6] by the parents of one of the students named on her blog, but as of January 4th, the suit had been dropped.[23] Following the rapists’ guilty verdict, Goddard was publically praised for her work bringing attention to the case.[39]



December 16th: New York Times Coverage

On December 16th, 2012, the New York Times[1] brought the case to national attention after publishing an in-depth look at the case, specifically the manner in which the story unfolded on Twitter and Instagram as people began sharing explicit photos of the victim. The piece also detailed the response of Steubenville’s football coach Reno Saccoccia, who defended his players and stated in November that he did not “do the Internet” or see the pictures or comments being shared.

December 23rd: #OpRollRedRoll

In late December, an offshoot group of Anonymous known as KnightSec got involved with the case by hacking into the football team’s website and replacing the page with a video message warning that the group would release personal information for every student and staff member involved in the case unless an apology was issued to the victim.[7] Operation RollRedRoll was launched on December 23rd, named after the Steubenville High School football fan site RollRedRoll.com.[11] On January 1st, 2013, Local Leaks[12] put up a blog post titled “The Steubenville Files,” detailing the people involved in the case including the owner of the fan site, James Parks, whose email was full of pornographic images of young women, and Coach Saccoccia, who allegedly gave drugs and alcohol to athletes who excelled. The post also profiled six students known as “The Rape Crew,” one of which had admitted to raping a girl in a leaked video.



December 29th: Occupy Steubenville

In conjunction with Operation RollRedRoll, hundreds of people[8] gathered in front of the Jefferson County Court House in support of the victim on December 29th, 2012. Dubbed “Occupy Steubenville,” the event went onto spawn the hashtag #OccupySteubenville[9] and the official Twitter account for the movement @Oc_Steubenville[10], which launched on January 3rd, 2013. A second rally was held on January 5th[26], which had a much larger turnout, estimated between 2,200 to 3,000 people. [27]




January 2013: Trial News Coverage

Shortly after the launch of the Anonymous operation and the Occupy protests, additional news reports about the trial appeared on Jezebel[13], the Huffington Post[14], Slate[15], CNN[16], The Atlantic Wire[17], the Raw Story[18], New York Daily News[19], Bitch Magazine[20] and Buzzfeed[21], among many others. In reaction to all of the media attention, Steubenville officials launched a website called SteubenvilleFacts.org[22], offering transparency information, a timeline of events, Ohio laws and facts about the police department.

January 2013: FBI Investigation

On January 8th, 2013, following another protest in the town, local officials received a “social media post” threatening a school shooting in the area, [29] which resulted in the lockdown of the town’s schools for two hours. After it was revealed to be an empty threat, the authorities initially blamed Anonymous for the message, to which KnightSec responded via Twitter denying any affiliation with the threat and dismissing it as a rumor stemming from an unknown third party. Within five days, the account was suspended.



The following day, the FBI launched an investigation into acts of cybercrimes surrounding the case after Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla reported that he had received an anonymous death threat against his family via Facebook, possibly in response to a video message[30] the sheriff made in which he claimed he would be “coming after” Anonymous for their actions. The same day, Steubenville Police Chief William McCafferty received a suspicious email that caused his computer to shut down.[28] However, the FBI has not officially commented on the probe[31], claiming that they were providing routine “technical assistance” in the case.

March 2013: Trial Begins

On March 12th, 2013, the lawyers for co-defendants Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays (shown below, left) filed a motion to have the case dismissed after a West Virginia judge ruled that the alleged victim did not have to testify during the trial. When the lawyers argued their clients wouldn’t have access to due process if the victim did not tell her side, the judge reversed his decision later that night.[32] Judge Tom Lipps (shown below, right), who came out of retirement[34] to preside over the trial, ruled that media would not be allowed to bring laptops, cellphones or iPads into the court room[33], due to the amount of online controversy surrounding the case. On the first morning of the proceedings, Judge Lipps immediately adjourned the trial for an hour to meet with lawyers on both sides to discuss admissibility issues with some of the evidence.[34] The case is currently being tried in juvenile court, which does not have a jury in Ohio[36], and more than 40 witnesses are expected to take the stand.[35]



March 2013: Judge Delivers Guilty Verdict

On March 17th, Judge Lipps delivered a guilty verdict on charges of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl against Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, who were sentenced up to two years and one year in juvenile detention center respectively. Mays received an additional year for transmission of nude photos and both young men will be required to register as sex offenders. Meanwhile, The Ohio state attorney general revealed that a grand jury would be convened on April 15th to determine if other crimes were committed by the co-defendants during that night in August 2012.

March 2013: CNN Coverage Controversy

During the last days of the trial leading up to the verdict, CNN came under harsh criticisms for its perceived bias in the coverage of the trial. On the web, there were numerous complaints that CNN reporters focused too much on humanizing the defendants and the negative impact of a guilty verdict on their lives, while failing to give equal attention to the victim’s family in the aftermath. There were several segments dedicated to the trial in which the victim was never mentioned at all, and instances in which the rapists’ parents’ testimony on how they were affected by the trial was shown without any comment on the harm caused by the assault.[37][38] A Change.org petition calling for CNN to apologize for their coverage was created on March 18.[46]



Many people on social networking sites, internet culture blogs and news media drew a comparison between CNN’s coverage to a satirical news story (shown below) about a college basketball star that “heroically overcame” the rape he committed that aired on The Onion’s short-lived Comedy Central series SportsDome in 2011. The clip was uploaded by former staff writer Krister Johnson on the evening of the 17th, and was shared that evening by HyperVocal[40] in their coverage of CNN’s presentation. Within the next 24 hours, the clip was shared on the Huffington Post[41], Gawker[42], Thought Catalog[43], ABC News Univision[44] and Mediaite[45] among others, gaining more than 93,000 views.



April 2013: Grand Jury is Called

On April 30th[47], a special grand jury with 14 members convened in Ohio to determine whether or not any other laws were broken, exploring the possibility of other charges including failure to report a felony, failure by a mandatory reporter to report child abuse (including rape) and the provision of alcohol to underage persons. On May 2nd, the jury took a hiatus[48] so investigators could conduct additional interviews. They reconvened on May 23rd, only to take another hiatus five days later.[49] The grand jury is set to resume on June 17th.[49]

June 2013: KYAnonymous Reveals Himself

On June 6th, 2013, KnightSec leader KYAnonymous released a statement on the group’s official website[50] revealing that his home had been raided by the FBI in April for his alleged involvement in hacking. He went public with his full name, Deric Lostutter, and reached out to Gawker[51] to draw attention to the case and his claimed innocence, citing a February 2013 Herald Star Online article[55] with an unnamed Virginia hacker known as @JustBatCat[56] who had already confessed he was behind the rollredroll.com hack.



Lostutter also stated that he would be represented by Jason Flores-Williams of the Whistleblower Defense League[54], which began raising money for his defense that day. Additionally, he launched a Facebook fan page[52] to drum up support for his cause, encouraging people to contact the Ohio Attorney General. News articles about Lostutter revealing his identity appeared on The Atlantic[53], Betabeat[57] and Mother Jones.[58] Though no charges have officially been filed as of June 7th, if Lostutter is convicted for hacking-related crimes, he could be facing up to ten years in jail.

On March 31st, 2014, Hollywood industry news blog The Tracking Board[59] reported that Plan B Entertainment, the film studio co-founded by Brad Pitt, acquired the film rights to “ANONYMOUS VS. STEUBENVILLE,”[60] the Rolling Stone article that follows KnightSec’s leader Deric Lostutter (a.k.a KYAnonymous) during the events of the rape trial and the Anonymous campaign. On the next day, @YourAnonNews[61] tweeted a link to the Tracking Board report, which was followed by a confirmation from @KYAnonymous himself via The Daily Dot.[62]




Search Interest



External References

[1]New York Times – Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City

[2]Prinnified.com – Big Red Players Accused of Rape & Kidnapping

[3]Prinnified.com – Steubenville Big Red Rape Accusations: The Other Perpetrators

[4]Prinnified.com – We Didn’t Know What Rape Was

[5]Facebook – Fans of WTOV-TV: BREAKING: Two juveniles arrested following alleged sex assault

[6]Herald Star – Suit filed against site operator

[7]Salon – Hackers hit Ohio school football team over gang rape

[8]Deadspin – “Occupy Steubenville” Gathers To Support Rape Victim, Call For Coach’s Job

[9]Twitter – Tweet results for #OccupySteubenville

[10]Twitter – @Oc_Steubenville

[11]RollRedRoll.com – Home

[12]Local Leaks – Steubenville Files

[13]Jezebel – Anonymous Leaks Horrifying Video of Steubenville High Schoolers Joking About Raping a Teenager ‘Deader than Trayvon Martin’

[14]Huffington Post – Steubenville High School Students Joke About Rape In Video Leaked By Anonymous

[15]Slate – Rape, Lawsuits, Anonymous Leaks: What’s Going On in Steubenville, Ohio?

[16]CNNOnline outrage over Ohio rape case prompts city website

[17]The Atlantic Wire – Occupy Steubenville: Anonymous vs. the Sheriff

[18]The Raw Story – Steubenville rape protest draws hundreds as city responds to cover-up allegations

[19]NY Daily News – Steubenville officials use website to inform public about teen rape case, deny Big Red football ‘runs the city’

[20]Bitch Magazine – Everything You Really, Really Didn’t Want to Know about the Steubenville Rape Case

[21]Buzzfeed – The Definitive Timeline Of The Steubenville Rape Scandal

[22]SteubenvilleFacts.org – Home

[23]CNNSocial media casts spotlight on Ohio rape case

[24]The Atlantic – Everything You Need to Know About Steubenville High’s Football ‘Rape Crew’

[25]Jezebel – Citing Threats, Defense Lawyers Seek to Move Steubenville Rape Trial to Another Town

[26]Daily News – Hacker group Anonymous plans second ‘Occupy Steubenville’ rally on Saturday

[27]Tumblr – tellmewhere2start: Words can not express how proud I am of the 2,200-3,000 people who showed up and spoke out at the #OccupySteubenville Ohio rally AND the 80,000 online.

[28]CBS News – FBI probes cyber threats against Steubenville sheriff

[29]The Atlantic Wire – The Steubenville Rape Saga Now Includes a Shooting Threat

[30]The Examiner – Sheriff Abdalla’s video message to Anonymous: I’m coming after you

[31]The Atlantic Wire – The FBI Is Now Investigating the Steubenville Backlash

[32]CBS News – Steubenville Rape Trial: Alleged victim is now expected to testify

[33]The Daily Dot – As Steubenville rape trial begins, judge quiets social media

[34]The Atlantic Wire – Enter the Trial in Steubenville, Where the Cast Is Not Merely Football Players

[35]New York Times – Case Already Tried in Social Media Heads to Court

[36]The Blaze – DAY ONE OF STEUBENVILLE RAPE TRIAL: PROSECUTOR OUTLINES ALLEGED RAPE OF ‘SUBSTANTIALLY IMPAIRED’ 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL

[37]The Washington Post – CNN is getting hammered for Steubenville coverage

[38]The Huffington Post – CNN’s Steubenville Coverage Focuses On Effect Rape Trial Will Have On Rapists, Not Victim

[39]Democracy Now – Steubenville Rape Trial: Blogger Who Exposed Case Speaks Out After Ohio Teens Found Guilty

[40]HyperVocal – The Onion’s SportsDome Did CNN’s Absurd Rape Apology Coverage First

[41]Huffington Post – Did ‘The Onion’ Predict CNN’s Steubenville Rape Trial Coverage? (VIDEO),/a>

[42]Gawker – This Two-Year-Old Onion Story Perfectly Predicted CNN’s Shocking Steubenville Rape Trial Coverage

[43]Thought Catalog – CNN’s Steubenville Coverage Matches 2011 ‘Onion’ Athlete-Rape Parody Video

[44]ABC News Univision – The Onion Predicted Media’s Handling of Steubenville Rape

[45]Mediaite – Did The Onion Predict CNN’s ‘Sympathetic’ Coverage Of The Steubenville Rapists?

[46]Change.org Petition – CNN: Apologize on air for sympathizing with the Steubenville rapists.

[47]Post Gazette – Ohio grand jury begins probe today connected to Steubenville rape case

[48]TribLive – Steubenville high school rape case grand jury on hiatus

[49]Herald Star – Jury to break until June 17

[50]KnightSec – Greetings Citizens of the World, I am Deric Lostutter, and this is my story.

[51]Gawker – The FBI Raided Steubenville Anonymous Guy’s House. Here He Is.

[52]Facebook – KYAnonymous

[53]The Atlantic – The Steubenville Hacker Who Helped the Victim Is the First New Head to Roll

[54]Whistleblower Defense League –

[55]Herald Star Online – Man who took control of fan website talks

[56]Twitter – @JustBatCat

[57]Betabeat – FBI Raids Anonymous Member Behind Steubenville, Westboro and Revenge Porn Operations

[58]Mother Jones – Exclusive: Leader of Anonymous Steubenville Op on Being Raided by the FBI

[59]The Tracking Board – BRAD PITT AND 12 YEARS A SLAVE PRODUCERS EYE “ANONYMOUS VS. STEUBENVILLE” NEXT

[60]Rolling Stone – Anonymous Vs. Steubenville

[61]Twitter – YourAnonNews’s Tweet

[62]The Daily Dot – Brad Pitt will bring ‘Anonymous vs. Steubenville’ to the big screen

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