On the eastern edge of Ohio, near the Buckeye State's border with West Virginia, sits the football town of Steubenville — a normally quiet community that has faced increasingly intense media scrutiny in recent weeks after word spread that members of a local high school team allegedly gang raped an underage girl while revelers watched and took pictures on their phones.
According to reports, on the night of Saturday, Aug. 11, the 16-year-old victim passed out after getting drunk at an end-of-summer party. Two Steubenville High athletes, identified in court as Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, are accused of sexually assaulting her repeatedly over the span of several hours. They are scheduled to appear before a judge in juvenile court on Feb. 13. (Neither Mays nor Richmond appears to have made any public comments on the case. The victim, who has not been identified, has reportedly made a full physical recovery from the ordeal.) Last month, The New York Times reported that the unconscious girl may have been dragged to multiple parties over the course of the night, and may have been urinated on.
Even more disturbingly, several of the high school's athletes allegedly stood idly by as the assault took place, and a few even documented the night's events on social media like Twitter and Instagram. (Many of the tweets and photos have since been deleted, but screengrabs still exist.) "Never seen anything this sloppy lol," reads one tweet. Another from the same Twitter account reads: "I have no sympathy for whores." Suspected participants in the assault have reportedly dubbed themselves "The Rape Crew."
"Why didn't somebody stop it?" Steubenville Police Chief William McCafferty asked CNN. "You simply don't do that... It's not done."
The case is now attracting national attention, thanks in no small part to an online crusade launched by Anonymous, a self-annointed "hacktivist" group whose members are known for donning Guy Fawkes masks. On Wednesday, Jan. 2, the collective released a 12-minute video that purports to show an apparently drunk Steubenville football player mercilessly mocking the victim. (Watch the disturbing footage below.) "They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson," says the teen as others in the video laugh. "They raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team… [she was] deader than Trayvon Martin." Local authorities say they are already aware of the footage and have interviewed the speaker.
"The town of Steubenville has been good at keeping this quiet and their star football team protected," says a masked Anonymous member in a video posted to the group's website LocalLeaks. Front and center on that site is a post titled "The Steubenville Files," which is serving as a depository for evidence from the night of the alleged crime. Anonymous has christened its crusade #OpRedRoll, named after the Steubenville High School "Big Red" football team. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told a local news station that his office is still trying to figure out what happened that night before moving forward with more potential charges. "We fully understand the importance to the community in making sure that the truth comes out and that we know exactly what's going on," says DeWine.
Watch the disturbing 12-minute rant here. (Please be advised: This video contains strong and disturbing language.)