The Cost of being Anonymous

Deric Lostutter became famous, albeit anonymously, when he led the campaign to bring the Steubenville rapists to justice. As a results of his efforts,  Ma’Lik Richmond (just released) and Trent Mays (with a year left) were imprisoned.  Additionally, three other adults have been indicted for obstructing the investigation into the rape, while Steubenville’s superintendent of schools has been charged with hindering the investigation into a rape.

The community’s response to the perpetrators and the victim, as well as similar responses to similar high profile cases including  Rehtaeh Parsons from Cole Harbour NS, and Audrie Pott Saratoga California among many others, have brought the discussion of our society’s rape culture to a head. Victim blaming and public support for rapists has been a part of our culture since the myth of Eve persuading Adam into eating the apple was first recorded. Before the internet, a person could remove themselves from the area or change schools and hope their past as a rape attracting slut didn’t follow them. Now, no such possibility realistically exists. 

To emphasize the problem even more, one of the people who helped bring the videos of Richmond, Mays, and others to the police and the public may face more time in prison than the rapists. Deric Lostutte was arrested in 2012 for his role as a ‘hactivist’ in exposing the wrongdoing and the cover-up. According to his report, the take down was like something from an action movie in which a SWAT team captures a serial killer.

Approximately  Mid-April 2012 a search warrant was carried out on my address in Winchester, Kentucky for alleged communications with one “Noah Mchugh” aka @justbatcat regarding the hacking of and my alleged involvement in said hacking. Upon returning from a brief turkey hunt behind my farm I had just sat down and opened up my computer to work when my pitbull, named Thor, jumps up on the door as is common for him to do when someone new is at my house. I had been expecting a T-Shirt in the mail from and what appeared to be a Fed-Ex truck was parked in my driveway.  As I open the door to great the driver approximately 12 F.B.I. 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. I was handcuffed and detained outside while they cleared my house. My brother soon emerged later with his new girlfriend, both bewildered that the F.B.I. was at my house seeing as I have no prior criminal history, both of them in handcuffs as well. The Swat team left my belongings in the floor, my dogs shocked, my family nervous, my garage door battered open with a ram though I stated I had a key, and the RV camper window broken for entry though I stated to pull hard on the door.

It remains unclear whether Lostutte was involved in the misinformation spread about some of the citizens of Steubenville, and if he was, he deserves some level of punishment. However, it seemed to be a war of rumours and threats, with the primary facts being the identities of the perpetrators who attacked the student, however, the charges and penalties requested by the DA seem out of proportion.

Lostutter is now facing ten years behind bars if indicted for obtaining tweets and social media posts which revealed the details of the rape as well as for threatening action against the Steubenville rapists and school officials who helped to cover up the crime.

It says a lot about attitudes towards rapists and their victims when the justice system attacks whistleblowers to a greater extent than physical attackers. There is a major push to develop laws around cyberbullying, something that happened from both sides in this case, but to bring greater charges for than than for sexual assault seems extremely vindictive.

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