Following the gruesome assault and rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, the alleged offenders Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond dragged the passed out girl to several parties over the course of the night where she was raped and brutalized by an untold number of individuals, most of whom were in or associated with the high school football team. When the girl decided to press charges, last month many members in the community including the football coach circled the wagons around the alleged rapists and the high school football team. Even though pictures on Instagram and Twitter emerged with the girl in compromised positions and in humiliating acts, there was still little more than a defensive silence from officials in a town where the alleged perpetrators have a God-like status.
(See complete story from New York Times here)
Enter the hacking collective Anonymous. According to a January 7, 2013 article by The Nation, Anonymous has taken a deep interest in the local Sheriff and his friendship with Steubenville High’s football coach. Convinced that the case is not being taken seriously, Anonymous released incriminating information about the Sheriff of Jefferson County running an illegal gambling ring and deleting video evidence of the crime in question.
Some members of the hacking collective have also leaked hacked videos taken of the teenagers accused of being at the party discussing the rape, laughing and making jokes about the matter. The matter was then all but taken out of the local justice’s hands and put in the public spotlight and thus the court of public opinion.
[View full video here. Warning, some of the material may be considered offensive and disturbing]
Anonymous gained great public approval following the successful attempts at thwarting the Westboro Baptist Church in protesting the funerals of the victims of last month’s Newtown, CT shooting. After releasing the names and addresses of all members of the WBC, Anonymous organized a large collective of individuals including NYC Police, fire fighters and motorcycle gangs to create a human chain protecting the funerals from the much despised WBC. The church eventually conceded defeat, turned tail, and returned home.
Anonymous, and its KnighSec wing it seems have proven their cultural worth and filled a space that law enforcement cannot (or in the case of Steubenville, will not) go. It may be time to take this new, collective Batman figure more seriously in the public light. Time will tell if this righteous mantel will truly hold.