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How Anonymous Hacking Exposed Steubenville High School Rape Case

Social media has leaked horrific details of the case, inspiring a call for increased accountability and a protest this Saturday.

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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."

Anonymous also claimed to have uncovered additional information suggesting a coverup. While the county prosecutor and the judge in the case recused themselves because of their ties to the football team, the hackers say there are more attackers, as well as more victims. Moreover, they claim the alleged rape occured at prosecutor Jane Hanlin’s home, and that her son may have been involved. They also point to ties between Steubenville law enforcement and the football team. From the Leaks:

When the family of the victim went to file the charges, Jane Hanlin [the prosecutor] was present. She strongly discouraged them from filing. Hanlin frightened not only the victim, but the parents as well. Telling them that her name was going to be dragged through the mud, she will be in and out of court for well over two years, the press wouldn’t leave any of the family alone once the crime was made public. Scared out of their wits, the parents said they didn’t want that and Hanlin then said not to worry just leave it up to her and the detectives on the case.

The town has been called “ divided” on the rape, split between blaming the victim and her attackers. Here, social media also gives a glimpse into the way some in the town seem to trivialize rape. As one student posted on Facebook:


A football coach, too, blamed the victim. From the New York Times:

"The rape was just an excuse, I think," said the 27-year-old Hubbard, who is No. 2 on the Big Red’s career rushing list.

"What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?” said Hubbard, who is one of the team’s 19 coaches. "She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it."

If one thing is clear from the video it's that the boys who commited, witnessed, or heard about the rape found it funny. Dubbing themselves the “rape crew,” they certainly understood that what happened was, indeed, rape. To the dismay of many, most of them appear to have gotten away with participating, watching, or disseminating pictures of the attack. Some locals have said that the lack of punishment is linked to the boys’ football celebrity in an increasingly poor town.

At the very least, the case is a disturbing reflection of America’s rape culture. But it’s also an interesting glimpse into social media, and how it can not only implicate people in a crime, but also be used to hold them accountable when the justice system has not. Should Anonymous be correct that there was a subpar investigation of the alleged rape, social media has allowed Americans outside of the town to rally for the victim and demand justice. Without that, her case may have been confined to the small town where half of the residents reportedly believe that she is the one to blame.