Sunday, January 06, 2013

Steubenville erects own rape case website to combat hackers, social media

On Saturday, the city of Steubenville, Ohio responded to the actions of KnightSec, an Anonymous-affiliated hacker group, by creating a website, Steubenville Facts. KnightSec had earlier created a website named Local Leaks that sought to expose the deep connections -- and implied corruption -- between the city's high school football program and local authorities.

Why would anyone be concerned about such connections? Because of a 2012 rape case involving a 16-year-old girl that KnightSec says has been covered up. In addition, the hacker group has restored some social media pieces that appear to be clear evidence of the crime, including a video showing teenager Michael Nodianos basking in the "glory" of the gang rape of the girl by his high school football player teammates.

Although the two players allegedly involved, quarterback Trent Mays and wide receiver Ma’lik Richmond, both 16, have been charged with rape and are scheduled to stand trial on Feb. 13, social media, mainstream media, and KnightSec have been vocal in their criticism, alleging that many more Big Red players were involved, either as participants or as onlookers who tweeted, posted videos, and Instagrammed photographs of the assault, yet did nothing to stop it.

KnightSec hasn't been the only critic to be restoring and uploading past social media posts by Steubenville residents. Screen captures of offensive Tweets by Big Red players were posted by an Ohio-based blogger, Alexandria Goddard.

Goddard posted that evidence on her site. It seems strange, given the evidence which was posted last August, that the teens haven't already been prosecuted (in fact, despite what would seem to be overwhelming evidence, they have plead not guilty).

As noted on her site and on the KnightSec site, Mays and Richmond videotaped and photographed their crime and then posted those images on the Web. Goddard wrote:
What normal person would even consider that posting the brutal rape of a young girl is something that should be shared with their peers? Do they think because they are Big Red players that the rules don’t apply to them?
However, no conviction has occurred since then.  As it seemed the case had stalled, KnightSec stepped in just a few days ago with its own evidentiary site.

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The Steubenville Facts website addresses those "leaks," in a manner. On the site, the authorities say:
Nothing in the law allows someone who says repugnant things on Twitter, Facebook, or other Internet sites to be criminally charged for such statements.

Steubenville Police investigators are caring humans who recoil and are repulsed by many of the things they observe during an investigation. Like detectives in every part of America and the world, they are often frustrated when they emotionally want to hold people accountable for certain detestable behavior but realize that there is no statute that allows a criminal charge to be made.
Of course, it seems that the public -- while repulsed by the posts -- is more concerned that the actual miscreants are brought to justice, and that those posts are used as evidence, and not scrubbed from the Web.

It is also quite difficult to listen to anything Steubenville says -- at all -- when the New York Times seems to have a damning -- and lengthy -- expose on the town.

Still, the chief prosecutor in Jefferson County, which has jurisdiction in the area, has agreed to recuse herself from the case -- as her son plays on the Big Red team. The prosecution of the case has been handed to a team of special investigators led by the attorney general for the whole state of Ohio, Mike DeWine.

Ohio had best be aware: The nation -- and Anonymous -- is watching the story unfold.

In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if the Steubenville Facts site is hacked, very quickly.

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