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Monday, January 7, 2013

Rape In Steubenville Attracts Anonymous' Attention To Injustice And Corruption On Main Street, USA


The hacktivist group Anonymous is known mostly for efforts to expose wrongdoing involving governments, multinational corporations, and large financial institutions. That might be about to change with the alleged gang rape and kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.

The alleged attack, on a girl who reportedly was unconscious, happened last August. But it did not become national news until The New York Times reported a story titled "Rape Case Unfolds On Web And Splits City" on December 16.

Witness accounts via social media caused the story to spread. Anonymous helped break it wide open last week when it gathered information suggesting an official cover up and placed it on a WikiLeaks-style Web site.

Two members of the town's football team have been arrested and charged with rape. But the Anonymous reports hint at misconduct that goes way beyond two student-athletes--and it might include efforts by law enforcement and town officials to cover up crimes.

Could this be a sign that Anonymous is prepared to help fight the kind of rampant corruption in America's justice system that has been the focus of numerous posts here at Legal Schnauzer? Is Anonymous set to train its sights on rogue judges, prosecutors, and lawyers--and those who guide them, or in some cases, buy them off?

For example, let's ponder these scenarios:

* What if Anonymous took an interest in hacking various accounts that might reveal who caused Alabama resident Sherry Carroll Rollins and her daughters to be cheated in a Shelby County divorce case where the judge did not even have jurisdiction to hear the matter? What if Anonymous decided to scrutinize those who appear to be behind the Rollins v. Rollins fiasco--including Ted Rollins and his company, Campus Crest Communities; Randall Rollins and his company, Orkin Pest Control (Rollins Inc.); and Michele Rollins and her companies, Rollins Jamaica and Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment? What if that scrutiny extended to the Birmingham law firm of Bradley Arant, which apparently played a leading role in getting the case unlawfully shifted from South Carolina, where it had been litigated for three years?

* What if Anonymous took an interest in hacking accounts that might reveal who caused Chilton County Judge Sibley Reynolds to unlawfully send Clanton resident Bonnie Cahalane (Knox) Wyatt to jail for almost five months because of an alleged debt connected to her divorce case? What if Anonymous shined light on communications among Reynolds, Shelby Concrete president Bobby Knox, and various lawyers in the case--and that includes our old friend William E. Swatek, who was deeply involved in the Knox v. Knox divorce case?

* Even closer to home, what if Anonymous took an interest in hacking accounts that might reveal who caused me to be cheated out of my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)--and who caused Mrs. Schnauzer to be cheated out of her job at Infinity Property and Casualty. We have evidence in the form of a tape-recorded phone conversation that proves I was targeted because of my reporting on this blog about the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Mrs. Schnauzer, more than likely, was fired in part because she is married to me. What if Anonymous shined light on communications among former UAB President Carol Garrison, members of the UA Board of Trustees, and certain members of the legal and political communities who wanted to shut down my reporting? What if Anonymous decided to pry into Infinity's records and reveal who caused my wife to be fired?

Anonymous, understandably, has focused on matters that are national and international in scope. But the Steubenville rape case helps show that many American communities, of all shapes and sizes, are infested with cultures that protect certain individuals while encouraging abuse of others.

How powerful are reports on social media and via Anonymous? You can get an idea by checking out a LocalLeaks site called The Steubenville Files, which provides insights about a number of central figures who appear to have conflicts of interest or disturbing secrets in their closets. These include Jim Parks, the owner of a private fan site for the football team; sheriff Fred Abdalla; prosecuting attorney Jane Hanlin; and football coach Reno Saccoccia.

As for Anonymous, it has launched Operation Roll Red Roll, including a Web site that describes efforts to get at the truth of what happened in Steubenville. What impact has Anonymous had on the story? Consider this from a report at New York Magazine:

National interest in the August incident was renewed earlier this week thanks to the efforts of hacktivist group Anonymous, which has accused town leaders of trying to cover up the crime. In addition to a twelve-minute video of some Steubenville High School students joking about the victim, Anonymous released the names of a so-called "Rape Crew" (boys who may have known about, witnessed, or even potentially participated in the rape.) They also charged the sheriff tasked with investigating the matter, Fred Abdalla, with destroying evidence and running an illegal gambling operation. On Friday, Abdalla told a local news station that he intended to "come after" Anonymous, who he accused of "character assassination." However, he seemed to take a softer stance on Saturday, when he appeared in front of the 1,300 attendees of Occupy Steubenville, an Anonymous-organized rally in support of the victim.

Anonymous clearly has grabbed the nation's attention and caused serious discomfort for Steubenville officials. We are betting that the hacktivists eventually will greatly enhance the cause of justice in a small Ohio town.

Will this lead Anonymous to shine a spotlight on corruption that directly affects Main Street, USA? We hope so--and we can promise that "hackers for justice" will find no shortage of juicy material, here in Alabama and beyond.

The following video provides background on Anonymous' role in the Steubenville fray:





18 comments:

jeffrey spruill said...

Even closer to home, what if Anonymous took an interest in hacking accounts that might reveal who caused me to be cheated out of my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)--and who caused Mrs. Schnauzer to be cheated out of her job at Infinity Property and Casualty.

*
What if Anonymous looked into Judge Robert G. Doumar & Karl Rove for setting up the Yaser Esam Hamdi case in Judge Doumar's courtroom after letting my case proceed to trial August14,1995 violating the Fifth Amendment Grand Jury Clause.

Good to see Anonymous acting on these local injustices:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/28/us/us-set-back-on-treatment-of-combatant.html?ref=yaseresamhamdi

legalschnauzer said...

Jeff:

I think Anonymous could find a lot of material in the Tidewater region.

TLR said...

I have a feeling this Steubenville story is going to get uglier before it gets better.

Sharon said...

We need Anonymous to do the work of the FBI.

Anonymous said...

Great points, LS. Would love to see Sibley Reynolds and Ted Rollins trying to explain the things Anonymous might find in their e-mail accounts. Hah!

Anonymous said...

Good God, they hacked the e-mail account of the booster club pres, and he had bathroom pics of girls taken at the high school. Anonymous takes no prisoners. I love it!

Could that be a crime?

legalschnauzer said...

I'm pretty sure that taking and publishing pictures of girls in the bathroom definitely could be a crime.

Brings to mind the case of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews and the guy who set up a hotel camera to take photos of her.

Bo said...

This is another case of elitism. Except in this case, the elites aren't people with money--they are football players. And as usual, elites expect to receive favors and special treatment.

legalschnauzer said...

Great point, Bo. You cut to the chase.

Melissa said...

This is a profound story. I've been wondering if Anonymous would get involved with issues that hit close to home for regular Americans. This story gives me hope.

Barb said...

I think it's important that the victim here is female, and Anonymous stands up for her, while the community and officials run for cover.

Zachery d Taylor said...

I'm as concerned as this as anyone else and if anonymous helps spur positive attention that is great; but I would consider a reasonable amount of skepticism especially when they're acting in secrecy. A lot of this might involve personal problems that probably should be dragged through the press without caution.

I don't mean to be too critical but the last thing I would want is to replace one covert organization with another potential one that could eventually lead to their own problems.

annarocket said...

It bothers me that they are not being charged as adults. Also,after seeing the video where the rape is being joked about and the subject matter is so horrible,if you look closely,at the subject of the vocal point of the video,at his feet off to the side is a rifle. What in the world is he doing with access to a firearm? This is beyond disturbing.

LocalLeaks said...

Greetings --

LocalLeaks and Anonymous do not target any particular town or situation. In the case of LocalLeaks, we are disclosure driven - if you want a particular place or incident looked into, you need to promote the website and someone needs to leak to us enough documents or other sensitive material that we can do a global disclosure with like "The Steubenville Files". Similarly, Anonymous is an events driven movement that can only respond once the people have risen up and said enough is enough.

YOURS -- LocalLeaks Staff

legalschnauzer said...

LL:

Thanks for your insights on how LocalLeaks works.

Anonymous said...

This is partially towards Zachary. Considering that those that Anonymous are against are masked in secrecy as well, I see the two forces as being on an even playing field. Anonymous is not by any means stupid thus the reason for their masks and name. Considering that the FBI is trying to shut them down, arrest, prosecute etc, that is very telling. Why would they want to go after a group that seeks justice? Over an Internet bug? I think not. If that was it then arrest the few instead of going after the whole. These guys are heros!

e.a.f. said...

Their dirty little secrets won't be hidden for very long if organizations such as Wikileaks open the windows & let the sunshine in.

People have been outraged by the rape & subsequent death of a young woman in India. What has gone on in this case is not that dissimilar. Many in Society doesn't not think there is anything wrong. They consider it, "boys will be boys" as long as its not their daughter, sister, wife being raped.

All of this must be brought to light. Women have the right to live their lives with out fear of rape & then the fear of the rapists getting away with it.

Zachery d Taylor said...

Anon at 10:29 in the short term, at least, I agree with you especially since the government and the media is doing such a bad job educating the public about many of the most important issues, including the most effective way to prevent violence. It is regretible, at best, that this kind of tactic might be necisary and if they didn't ahve to fear retaliation from those in power or others I suspect that they probably wouldn't be using this tactic at all.

However I still think this should be handled with caution. I don't know as much about it as many others but someone knows who is involved and the people closer to the situation are much more likely to have that knowledge than others like me, hundreds if not a thousand miles away. This may be anonymous to me but not necesarily to the people involved and I don't like to see this thing spalshed over the national news where many people may be more concerned about the entertainment value.