Shocking video evidence of rape admissions and allegations of a wide cover up enterprise by influential adults in Steubenville, Ohio are shooting up the major media beanstalk at present.
Video files reportedly obtained by vigilante hacker(s) KnightSec were provided to the LocalLeaks blog who set up an investigative reporting operation urging additional victims or witnesses to feel secure in coming forward.They went live with the story here on Jan. 1. Warning, some of the video admissions might be hard to stomach for the sensitive.
The report includes fantastic accounts of an array of related crimes, seemingly based on hearsay accounts from students at Big Red High School. These include date rape drug procurement, local bookmaking, drug and protection rings and possible witness intimidation.
But you can hear first hand confirmations of knowledge of rape, on tape, made by alleged participants that have not been charged.
The digital footprints left by the ‘Rape Crew’ seem almost Darwinian in their stupidity, but only two of their number were charged, incredulously as juveniles. Why?
The blog’s authors say the same arresting authorities allegedly oversee local gambling operations, and had announced this particular leaked confession video was “inadvertently deleted”. If true, that represents serious suspicion of evidence tampering. State officials say the video provided nothing not already known.
The victim and her family were also advised not to pursue charges by a powerful county prosecuting attorney whose house was involved on the night in question, and whose son runs with the same posse, according to the post.
Some of the allegations made in the blog are so far-flung, it leads this writer to believe it might in part be a ploy to drum up media attention and public awareness (which clearly worked). The raised profile of the case led the Ohio Attorney General’s office to appoint special prosecutors to preserve the fairness of the proceeding in the tight-knit community.
But there is a downside if the attention hurts the legal case against the accused rapists. At least one suspect is already claiming they can’t get a fair trial now, with supporters saying the hackers are “terrorists”.
A skilled defense team could be collecting hundreds of online threats made against the accused, such as “the rapists could be hanged from the high school goal posts”. The Facebook page for Ohio State University, the college of the central braggart in the video is alight with comments about the case, including choice bits like “i hope this town gets f**ing rioted/and or looted to bits tomorrow f** them”.
At noon on Saturday, the local ABC affiliate livestreamed a demonstration at the Jefferson County Courthouse in support of the victim.
Sentiment is running high these days in support of victims’ right as House GOP leadership just refused to allow a vote on the reauthorization of the popular Violence Against Women Act after it sailed through the Senate.
A Common “Microcosm” of Larger Human Rights Issue
In India, the gang rape and death of a New Delhi woman has led to massive protests, arrests and a massive national conversation. The resultant media focus has spilled over into many other cases and jurisdictions.
The preponderance of marches and vigils has electrified activists, but what happens when a movement turns into a mob? In the New Delhi case, an abrupt backlash has led to calls for the death penalty and an attempted bombing close to an accused rapist’s home, largely considered symbolic.
It was just this past March when Morocco changed it’s law barring rapists from marrying their victims following mass protest and viral media reporting the suicide of an underage victim named Amina El-Filali.
Digital Divide Between Citizen Media and The Law