Things already sounded fishy in Steubenville, Ohio, where the alleged gang rape and kidnapping of an unconscious 16-year-old by two of the town's high-school football players has turned into a complex web of accusation, shock, and, well, Instagram photos. But conflicting reports over an already emotional case became that much more complex today when a WikiLeaks-style site dumped new information about team boosters, the town sheriff, and the alleged "Rape Crew" online — information rounded up, of course, by the anonymous hacking collective known as Anonymous.
In case you haven't been following the scandal, it rose to national prominence last month when The New York Times ran a lengthy report from Steubenville, on the August incident and its intersection of football, the law, and social media. Perhaps one quote, from one of Steubenville High's 19 football coaches, best summed up the controversy: "The rape was just an excuse, I think ...What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that? She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it."
Update, Monday: Click here for continuing coverage of the Steubenvile rape case.
Update, Saturday, 3:29 p.m.: In the midst of an Occupy Steubenville rally, Sheriff Fred Abdalla and Anonymous came face-to-face, and city leaders set up their own "facts" website.
Update, Friday, 12:08 p.m.: Tipsters have come forward and the site Live Leaks has put together what they believe is an account of what happened the night of August 11 when the alleged gang rape took place, which involves the alleged victim being drugged
Update, Thursday, 2 p.m.: We've created a primer on everything we know about Steubenville.
The idea that a rape victim made up her story is still floating around, despite photos of the girl being carried around while allegedly unconscious by her alleged attackers (right). "The city’s police chief begged for witnesses to come forward, but received little response," reported The New York Times's Juliet Macur and Nate Schweber. Therein comes the cover-up angle that would attract the attention of the folks behind Anonymous— this is a massive football town, after all. The photo in question was on Instagram, so there were definitely witnesses. And according to the Times there was a video of the alleged incident which has since been lost:
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 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.
"Other students (including football players) who watched the alleged assaults and later tweeted rape jokes were disciplined only months afterward," reported Deadspin's Sam Eifling.
Further information, too, has been hard to come by — until today. A site called Local Leaks has rounded up leaks, anonymous tips through Anonymous, and previously undisclosed documents, all for the purpose of what it says is a project "giving a voice to the victim of this horrible crime, and began unraveling this conspiracy of silence designed to protect a group of these high school football players." Here's what you'll find inside and surrounding what the two groups are calling The Steubenville Files:
- Jim Parks, who runs this "Roll Red Roll" fansite for the football team, "revealed that he had an exceptionally close relationship with many of the players on the football team, including those members of 'The Rape Crew.'" Anonymous has hacked his email, which apparently contains some provocative pictures of young women. Local Leaks says: "Tips received from anonymous high school students in Steubenville have indicated it is possible James Parks was receiving images from 'The Rape Crew' of their 'various conquests.'"
- Parks has defended himself:
As you are probably aware, this web site was recently hacked into illegally numerous times by a terrorist group. The outrageous claims they made while controlling this site were totally false, completely absurd, and totally unfounded. They were clearly both libelous and slanderous, and were not even intended to reveal truth, but rather simply to get media attention and terrorize the Steubenville community. Innocent people have been greatly harmed.
Unfortunately, several national media outlets, including the New York Times, have recklessly decided to aid and abet these acts of illegality and give the terrorists exactly what they wanted by disseminating inaccurate and legally actionable information and accusations. Incredibly, they have done so without even bothering to contact this web site for comment.
We wish to make it clear that we will pursue legal justice against the perpetrators of these evil acts and all of those in the media who chose to help them.
(No, we're not sure how The New York Times decided to "recklessly decided to aid and abet these acts of illegality" by reporting on the town, but there you have it.)
- The hackers think the "Rape Crew" consists of more than two people. As LocalLeaks notes, Trent Mays and Malik Richmond, the two boys charged with the rape, have been released on bail and had their cases moved to the juvenile system. LocalLeaks posted the names of two more students — the boy who tweeted out the picture of the girl being dragged around, and the boy whose house was where the rape allegedly occurred. The leak suggests that the boy who hosted the party in question was not punished because his mother is the prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County, where Steubenville is located.
- The Sheriff for Jefferson County is allegedly a friend of the football team. "LocalLeaks has confirmed that Sheriff Abdalla and Head Football Coach Reno A. Saccoccia have breakfast a couple of times a week together at the Spot Bar in Steubenville," reads the leak.
- Head Football Coach Reno Saccoccia reportedly has links to the juvenile court system. "Reno Saccoccia’s sister in law, Marguierete Clark – is the secretary for the juvenile court Judge Kerr. Coach Saccoccia is actually employed as a mediator in juvenile court system!" reads the leak.
- Saccoccia has already been scrutinized for not taking disciplanary action when the photos surfaced. From The New York Times report:
Saccoccia, pronounced SOCK-otch, told the principal and school superintendent that the players who posted online photographs and comments about the girl the night of the parties said they did not think they had done anything wrong. Because of that, he said, he had no basis for benching those players.
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.
"You made me mad now," he said, throwing in several expletives as he walked from the high school to his car.
Nearly nose to nose with a reporter, he growled: "You're going to get yours. And if you don't get yours, somebody close to you will."
The documents and tips funneled through Anonymous are just that — anonymous — and so it's impossible to verify much if any of the new allegations. Local Leaks does claim that "all the LocalLeaks volunteers began working around the clock to organize, analyze, fact-check, verify – and prepare this disclosure for release." They add:
Finally, we KNOW from the evidence that there are not only more attackers in this “Rape Crew” out there that need to be apprehended and brought to justice, but we are absolutely certain there are more victims as well. If you have been victimized by these young men, we BEG of you to PLEASE come forward. Tell your parents, confide in a counselor – anything. If you trust no one else, then contact us – we will keep you safe and work with you to help you receive the justice you deserve.
Update 3:12 p.m. Anonymous was able to recover a video which a former Steubenville student, described in the video as Michael Nodianos, made several comments and joked about the alleged victim on the night of the alleged rape. Referring to her as "dead girl," he says in the video: "They raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team" along with some other "jokes" about her unconsciousness which he seems to find funny. Warning—this is pretty disgusting:
Update, Friday, 5:15 p.m.: Ohio State has released a statement regarding Nodianos.