STEUBENVILLE, OH — During the early morning hours of Aug. 12, 2012, an intoxicated teenage girl became victim to a terrifying and dehumanizing series of rapes by peers on her school’s football team. Even before sunrise, pictures and videos of the incident had spread among classmates. The following investigation was plagued with coverups by coaches and school officials looking to preserve their beloved football program. Shortly after, The New York Times brought national spotlight to the case and, with it, controversy. While the majority of onlookers expressed rage at the rapists, a portion of commoners and news anchors alike shared sympathies with the accused rapists, some going so far as to blame the victim for getting drunk.
Following this attention, the hacktivist network Anonymous and its closely-related offshoot KnightSec launched operations to expose anyone who stood against the victim. Among other contributions, the hackers accessed and defaced the football team’s website with a video demanding an apology. They also leaked a separate video, presumably from court evidence, of the football team making fun of the rape incident. Both hacks garnered national outrage toward the rapists and seemingly broken judicial system alike.
And that anger was not in vain, either. In a disturbing turn of events, the two football players directly involved in the rapes received only one and two year prison sentences. One of them has been released early on good behavior. Meanwhile, Deric Lostutter, one of the hackers involved in the defacing of the football team’s website, could face up to ten years behind bars for his actions.
While Lostutter was not directly involved in hacking the team’s website, he does admit to being the masked man in the hackers’ video, a small crime compared to repeatedly raping another human being. Still, his arrest was reminiscent of a Mission: Impossible police raid. “Approximately 12 FBI SWAT team agents jumped out of the truck, screaming for me to ‘get the fuck down!’ with M-16 assault rifles and full riot gear, armed, safety off, pointed directly at my head,” Lostutter recalled on his blog.
The manner in which he was arrested adds to the uneven prison sentences. Two rapists who on video, days after the rape, made fun of the incident as if their victim were no more than an animal, received three years total prison time. Yet the well-to-do hacker who helped raise public awareness and outrage at those monsters through a victimless act faces ten years prison time.
In the true spirit of civil disobedience, Lostutter welcomes his sentence. “They’re gonna have to lock me up if they think I ain’t gonna stand up for some people ever again,” he said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “So f**k that.”