Credit: Cascade_of_Rant on Flickr under CC 2.0).
(WOMENSENEWS)–Since Jan. 8 guards have been posted outside each of the four schools in Steubenville, Ohio, where a high-school football team is at the epicenter of a notorious rape scandal, The Huffington Post reports.
Next month Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, both 16-year-old members of the Big Red High School football team, are set for trial in juvenile court. They were arrested Aug. 22 for raping a 16-year-old classmate and kidnapping her by taking her to several parties while she was too drunk to resist, The New York Times reported at the time.
Publicity about the case is linked to @KYanonymous on Twitter, a person releasing hacked information via LocalLeaks and playing a key role in the leaking of information about the case. His Twitter account was suspended Jan. 9 allegedly after a death threat a student saw from some Anonymous person on Facebook or Twitter.
After the group LocalLeaks posted a full detailed profile of the case, and the alleged cover up conspiracy by the town to protect the local football heros, officials in Steubenville, Ohio, have launched a website entitled “Steubenville Facts” in response to the national attention to defend their efforts, Time reported.
However the department is under severe criticism, particularly Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, accused of shielding the football program from a more rigorous investigation, who told reporters Jan. 5 no one else would be charged in the case, rattling the community presented with strong evidence that there were likely more than just the two offenders, Reuters reported.
The evidence is a disturbing video posted Jan. 2 by the hacker group Anonymous. Taken at 2 a.m. Aug. 12, the 12-minute video is of Michael Nodianos, a friend of the accused, joking about the victim as “deader than OJ’s wife” and saying you “don’t need any foreplay on a dead girl. If it ain’t wet now it ain’t never gonna be wet.“
Although the case gained some media attention last month, the more recent release of the Anonymous video garnered the real national outrage and outlash.
After the video release, on Jan. 7 Nodianos’ lawyer said Nodianos was ashamed and embarrassed about his comments in the video and the effect his behavior has had, especially on his family, CBS reported.
Ohio State University, where Nodianos was a student on an academic scholarship, announced on its Twitter feed Jan. 7 that he is no longer a student at the university, The Huffington Post reported.
Anonymous is a hacker group, part of an online community of “hacktivists” doing “cyber vigilantism.” Most recently Anonymous stopped the Westboro Baptist Church planning to protest the funerals of Sandy Hook Elementary victims.
Jezebel has hailed its involvement, saying that if not for Anonymous and Internet vigilantism, this case could have been another swept under the rug rape case, with little justice for the victim in the face of another beloved high school sports team scandal.
The assault took place Aug. 11, 2012 and was brought to the attention of authorities Aug. 14 after the victims parents learned about the attack via the internet. They went to the police with a flash drive of photographs, videos and Twitter posts such as “Song of the night is definitely Rape Me by Nirvana,” The New York Times reported.
According to LocalLeaks, the victim was intoxicated and unconscious during the time of the gang rape, intentionally drugged with a “date rape” intoxicant and almost certainly raped by more members of the high school football team than just the two players who currently stand charged. There is also evidence that she was urinated upon during this hideous assault.
“Some people deserve to be peed on,” said a Twitter post from the night which was reshared on Twitter by several people, including Mays, according to The New York Times.
Nodianos, along with Mays, Richmond and other members of the high school football team have become known in Steubenville by their peers as “The Rape Crew.”
Since the leaked video, Mays’ lawyer is trying to get his trial postponed and relocated due to the amount of exposure and threats to the defendants, counsel and witnesses. “We’re concerned about safety issues at this point,” The Atlantic Wire reported.
Witnesses are also reportedly afraid to come forward due to threats and pressure not to testify, CBS reported.
However, two witnesses who did testify said that the victim needed help walking and was carried out of the house by Mays and Richmond while she was “sleeping,” The New York Times reported.
She woke up long enough to vomit in the street, a witness said, and she remained there alone for several minutes with her top off. Another witness said Mays and Richmond were holding her hair back.
Afterward, they headed to the home of one football player who has now become a witness for the prosecution. That player told the police that he was in the backseat of the car 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 girl “was just sitting there, not really doing anything,” the player testified. “She was kind of talking, but I couldn’t make out the words that she was saying.”
Maggie Freleng is an editorial assistant for Women’s eNews; she lives in Brooklyn.