Steubenville, Ohio is preparing for a high-profile rape case involving two 16-year-old students who allegedly raped a fellow student and posted graphic photos, tweets, and video online. The case has only recently been exposed and called a cover-up by groups such as Anonymous and a sect known as the KnightSec.
The case has divided the small town. The two defendants, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, are both 16 and have been charged with rape; they are currently under house arrest after spending two months in jail awaiting their February trial.
Mays and Richmond were at a large party in August when they noticed a female student was heavily drunk and possibly unconscious, according to The New York Times.
"Richmond was behind her, with his hands between her legs, penetrating her with his fingers, a witness said," the Times reported. A player allegedly "told the police that he was in the back seat of his Volkswagen Jetta with Mays and the girl when Mays proceeded to flash the girl's breasts and penetrate her with his fingers, while the player videotaped it on his phone."
"The player, who shared the video with at least one person, testified that he videotaped Mays and the girl 'because he was being stupid, not making the right choices.' He said he later deleted the recording," Police Chief William McCafferty said.
A video showing young men discussing the girl's condition and the rape itself was released by Anonymous and transcribed for viewers by Jezebel.com. The site also noted that Anonymous has set its targets on exposing "those who weren't charged but allegedly called themselves 'the rape crew.'"
"She is so raped," one man joked in the video posted by Jezebel.
"That's not cool, bro. That's like rape. It is rape. They raped her," another man said in the video.
The young men also allegedly urinated and defecated on the victim, adding a new layer of humiliation and degradation to the case. She didn't even realize the extent of her attack "until a local paper wrote about it the next day," The Times wrote.
No other witnesses were willing to come forward, and that's when outsiders began to investigate and look at online media to see if there was evidence against the young men. Crime blogger Alexandria Goddard put together a catalogue of the tweets, photos, and videos that were deleted as soon as the news began to circulate.
In one Facebook post, the 16-year-old victim was referred to as the "Steubenville 'train whore' going to parties over there every weekend and foul [expletive] going down."
A blog post on LocalLeaks notes that Anonymous released a video message explaining its plan to expose all those who were involved if they did not come forward on their own.
"Fueled by intelligence they had received from many students at Big Red High School, they launched Operation RollRedRoll," the site reports. It also lists all of those involved in the crime and alleged cover-up, from the sheriff to the prosecuting attorney.
Part of the reason Anonymous believe there is a cover-up in the town stems from Steubenville High head football coach refusing to bench the young men involved, or those even at the illegal party.
"Approached in November to be interviewed about the case, Saccoccia said he did not 'do the Internet,' so he had not seen the comments and photographs posted online from that night. When asked again about the players involved and why he chose not to discipline them, he became agitated," The Times wrote.
Right now the young victim is under police protection. She and her mother have both received numerous death threats since news of the story broke. She will have to face her attackers and their supporters in court on Feb. 13.