Computer hackers hijacked the website of the Steubenville High School football team late Sunday, threatening to release the personal data of school officials, coaches and every player on the team if those involved in a suspected rape did not publicly apologize to the girl and her family.
A group calling itself Anonymous, a hacker collective, and KnightSec posted a note and a video on the Web page of the Big Red, a program known for its dominance. The note stated that the city was protecting its beloved football team by charging only two players with the rape of a girl “when everyone present was guilty.”
In the video, a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask said that the names, Social Security numbers, addresses, names of relatives and phone numbers of people connected to the case were being compiled and would be made public if an apology from those involved did not come before Jan. 1.
“This is a warning shot to the school faculty, the parents of those involved and those involved especially,” the person said in a computerized voice.
Anonymous is a hacker group that has coordinated cyberattacks on the websites of major corporations, such as MasterCard, and the government, including the U.S. Justice Department.
The hackers’ crusade against the football team on Sunday ignited activity on the Web about the rape case. The video that Anonymous posted on the team’s website was removed from the site Monday morning.
A statement from Steubenville City Schools said the school system does not have any connection with the hacked website, Rollredroll.com.
The unauthorized video posted on the team’s website referred to the case of a 16-year-old girl who prosecutors said was raped on the night of Aug. 11 at a series of parties in and around Steubenville. Twitter comments, a photograph on Instagram and at least one video that was posted on YouTube that night documented the rape, prosecutors said.
Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale, Ohio, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville — two sophomore standouts on the football team — remain on house arrest on charges that they had raped the girl when she was too drunk to resist. Their trial has been set for Feb. 13 in juvenile court.
The case has shaken the team and divided Steubenville. The night of the party, residents began taking sides, with some blaming the girl, saying she was trying to defame the team with her accusation. Others said the suspected rape occurred as a result of a hero-worshipping culture of a city obsessed with high-school football.
At a hearing in early October, two football players and one wrestler testified for the prosecution at a probable cause hearing, with one witness stating that he had seen Mays rape the girl in the back seat of a car while the girl was slurring her words and was unable to walk on her own. That witness said he videotaped the rape, but later deleted the video from his phone. Another witness testified he saw Richmond rape the girl while she was motionless and naked on the basement floor at one party.
The hackers posted the names of those witnesses, as well as the names of other witnesses they said saw the rape. They referred to those witnesses as “targets.”