There are few rules on the Internet (my personal favorite is Rule #34) but the first and most important one is: Don’t fuck with Anonymous.
An anarchic viral movement, comprised of thousands of hackers all over the world, Anonymous has proven time and again that they have the power to take down banks, governments, and even the military through their deftly organized hacking attacks.
Now the town of Steubenville is in their sights, with a faction known as Knightsec turning their attention to the High School and the Sheriff’s department; both of which are accused of trying to cover up a horrific sexual assault conducted against a 15-year-old victim.
Steubenville High School felt the impact of Anonymous first when hackers broke into and then defaced their “Big Red” fan website, posting their accusations for all visitors to see.
They then started posting personal information and photos of those they accuse of attempting to cover up the horrific crime, or of being part of the “Rape Crew” who committed the alleged sexual assaults.
They also outline what happened the night of the alleged crimes, but that’s where the few facts we know about the case start to contradict Anonymous’ version of events. Most notably, they claim that following her ordeal, the victim of the alleged assault was dumped, naked, in the front yard of her parent’s house in a nearby town. According to the New York Times expose of the Steubenville rape allegations, she’d actually awoken in the basement of one of the houses in which she was assaulted.
Why does this matter? Because if Anonymous has some of their facts wrong, it throws all of their allegations into question.
And they make a lot of allegations.
For example, Anonymous claims that the 15-year-old victim was administered a date-rape drug by her ex-boyfriend at the party she was attending that night, which might well be true, but is impossible to prove at this point.
They also claim that the attacks and sexual assault were conducted as part of deliberate revenge against the 15-year-old victim, claiming Cody Saltsman messaged his friends a month before the alleged rape: “nobody breaks up with Cody Saltsman, Ill ruin that bitch.”
Again, that might be true, but Anonymous fails to provide any evidence to support these claims. Given the fact that their account contains discrepancies with other versions of what happened, it’s difficult to take any of these accusations at face value.
And their allegations go deeper than that.
Anonymous managed to hack the private email account of an avid “Big Red” fan, Jim Parks. They claim to have discovered pornographic images, including one that was “surreptitiously shot in the girls bathroom at the high school.”
They provide the image in question on their website, but unless Steubenville High School has especially unique and identifiable paper towel dispensers, it’s impossible to tell the image apart from the thousands of self-shots young women post voluntarily on Reddit’s /gonewild subreddit.
Anonymous’ allegations also extend to Coach Saccoccia, the coach of the Big Red football team (and, after warning a nosy journalist that she’d “get hers”, apparently an unlikable specimen of humanity).
They claim that Saccoccia told the players on his team to “lie till they die” about the events on the night of the alleged sexual assault. Their allegations went further, also stating (as fact) that Saccoccia had “allowed and even encouraged” his players to cheat on school tests so they’d maintain grades high enough to stay on the team.
Once again, these allegations are made without any evidence to support them – which doesn’t mean that they’re not true, but it does mean that people with half a brain have to question them.
And that’s the problem. In the face of a horrific event like the alleged sexual assault and rape of a 15-year-old girl, we shouldn’t have to pick and choose which disgusting accusations are true, and which are merely conjecture on the part of Anonymous. We want to know what really happened.
And while we might never know the answer to that – because even the victim has no recollection of the night in question (which supports Anonymous’ claim that she was drugged) – we should be able to pin enough facts down to make sure that the players charged with this horrific crime are found guilty and get the punishment they deserve for their crimes.
Anonymous’ accusations and innuendos aren’t helping us achieve that.
And that’s sad, because despite being a law-abiding citizen, I ultimately have a certain fearful respect and admiration for Knightsec and Anonymous.
Despite the problems I see in the way they’re tackling the Steubenville rape case, I am heartened by the fact that they are tackling the case. Their hearts are clearly in the right place here, which is something that can’t be said of the football fans who vehemently defend the alleged rapists.
I just wish Anonymous would take what they’re doing a step further. Instead of posting baseless accusations, I wish they'd post all the credible evidence they’ve discovered so that we can see for ourselves what happened that night. Then the police and prosecutors can’t help but sit up, take notice and throw the book at the alleged rapists.
Anonymous writing “she was raped” means nothing. It’s hearsay at best, conjecture at worst. But Anonymous has the power to show us the evidence that led them to say that she was raped, like the disturbing video (warning: vid linked there could be triggering) they posted of one of the alleged rapists describing the attack. It’s that evidence which will ultimately make all the difference in this case.
So please, Anonymous. No more pranks. No more trashing websites. No more emotive diatribes.
Instead, dig in and give us what this 15-year-old girl deserves, and what the town of Steubenville is trying to hide. The evidence needed to lock her attackers up for years to come.