As I observed in my piece at The Nation last week, I have been watching the controversy and outrage over the sexual assaults and alleged coverup in Steubenville, Ohio, for weeks, partly because my wife’s family lives nearby and I have visited that city many times. Here are the latest updates (and catch up with my prevous updates here),
8:20 p.m. USA Today with new piece on judge, in Cincinnati area, who will preside over the trial starting Feb. 13, if not postponed. As we know, he got appointed after locals begged out. Trial could be moved to Cincy but not necessarily. Did not know he had already turned down one request to close it to the public when it does happen. Story notes his long career in juvenile justice but unclear what other markers to look for.
7:00 Fraternal Order of Police in Steubenville dropped its phone solicitation company after a woman reported call for donation in which man on the line referred to rape case and IDed school that victim attends and other info... AP reports that schools chief in Steubenville has ordered armed guards to four buildings to make students feel safer. This came before today's lockdown after a bogus threat was posted on Facebook--or so a student said.
4:35 Over the past few days, we have carried several links to Alexander Abad-Santos at Atlantic Wire. Now he's out with a lengthy original bit of reporting that includes a detailed interview with the alleged Anonymous figure behind the LocalLeaks site--as well as probing the charted and uncharted waters of the alleged "gambling ring" run by the local sheriff (a little surprising to see this much of unproven material at The Atlantic, I must say). Read it all here.
If this interview is accurate, we learn that LocalLeaks editor is based abroad, with staffers and volunteers, and an attorney, there and elsewhere, and with surprising difficulties in storing data and tips and having to use a wall--not unlike Homeland's Carrie Matheson--to track the tips, rather than a software program.
4:10 p.m. Full raw video of local TV interview with @KYanonymous posted. He attacks those making threats against school and students, denies any hacking that broke law, reports rumor that someone's trying to sell one video for $5000, and more. "We are a peaceful people" and against all
3:15 Megan Carpentier at The Guardian with op ed, on his this case exposes the "cruelty" faced by rape survivors.... Lengthy Q & A at Huff Post with Anonymous "editor in chief" of the LocalLeaks files on the case.
12:30 p.m. Poynter collects and links to a few different views of the difficulties the media face in covering the case due to mixed feelings about role of Anonymous and other issues.
9:40 am All Steubenville schools in lockdown this morning, their first ever. Superintendent “said police told him there was some type of shooting threat made on social media. He was informed by police about the threat around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. McVey initially told NEWS9 over the phone that the threat was geared toward Harding Middle School, and later said it the threat was made against an unspecified building in the district.” UPDATE: Lockdown ended about 10:00 a.m.
8:55 Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss feels conflicted about Anonymous role and media coverage but concludes: “The fury that Anonymous has unleashed, after all, lays bare the problem with glorifying kids who happen to be good at throwing balls—and the problem with assuming that ‘unconscious’ is the same thing as ‘consent.’ Maybe the Steubenville case will prompt kids at high school and college parties to think twice about what they do and how they act. Maybe it will prompt parents and coaches to offer some sound and pointed advice. Maybe this will mark the moment when shame starts to outweigh glory. And maybe that’s when things will actually start to change.”
8:30 am Over the weekend I covered Traci Lord tweeting that she had been raped (at age 10) in Steubenville when she was growing up there, and then covered her support for protests there and her appearance on Roseanne Barr’s radio show. Now The Daily Beast has a full piece about the actress. “There’s no doubt in my mind that that experience really set the stage for me to go into porn and do all those things,” she said. “These are not things you start doing because everything is OK.” She says her mother was raped in Steubenville, as well, and things are still very tough for women there.
8:30 am What happened after flier for male students posted at Miami University: Top Ten Ways To Get Away With Rape.
8 pm CNN covering case tonight and Anderson Cooper leads off with it. New evidence put out by Ohio Attorney General today from “probable cause” hearing in October. Quotes witness on girl “out of it” and assault on girl in backseat with witness videotaping (this has come out before). “Carried out” of party like in the now-famous photo. Three witnesses testified then and cross-examined by defense attorneys—neither dispute that sexual acts took place but only that they were nonconsenual.
Then Gary Tuchman talked to @KYAnonymous guy who has released much evidence this month, some of it hacked. He appears on screen in mask in front of green Anonymous flag with voice scrambled. He defends putting evidence out and charging some guilty without trial. Then student Ed Wilson goes on screen to say he had been IDed as being at party but denies it fully. Another student, Atkins, claims two charged students not guilty for sure.
Then on to attorneys/commentators Jeffrey Toobin and Mark Geragos. They are conflicted about Anonymous action—“admirable” but “disturbing” as Geragos puts it. Toobin things change of venue unlikely because juvenile court, just a judge and no jury. Also, judge could seal courtroom. Toobin says “consent” will be key issue, of course. Geragos finally brings out the real key: girl could have been too drunk to give real “consent.” Toobin wrongly says it may come down to “he said/she said” when in fact many witnesses and social media comments.
5:10 pm Local TV station reports US Justice Dept. “is getting involved” and “intervened” in state and local prosecution efforts. “A former federal law enforcement official said federal agencies have many investigative resources and perhaps manpower and equipment that Ohio doesn’t have. The former official further said it’s also likely the FBI intervened in the case. In addition, if computer hacking is involved in a case, that is federal jurisdiction.”
3:10 pm Attorney for Michael Nodianos (see below) who is featured in the “hard raping” viral video held a presser a few minutes ago in which he claimed his client was delivering only “secondhand” information and was not at the party site where the alleged rapes took place. He had arrived at an earlier party just as she was being carried out. Two problems come to mind: the rapes are alleged to have taken place at more than one site; and Nodianos in the video seems to suggest more firsthand knowledge (and at one point a friend seems to go check on the victim’s condition). Attorney says Nodianos withdrew from Ohio State but hopes to return in fall.
3 pm Whoa boy: Nancy Grace now on the case—and with Roseanne Barr tonight.
2:10 pm Over the weekend, Ohio State U. issued a cryptic statement on student Michael Nodianos—who is the featured creep in that viral video talking about “hard rapes” and so on. It stated that he had not been on campus since mid-December but this coincided with Christmas break. Today their official Twitter feed announced: “Michael Nodianos is no longer a student at The Ohio State University.”
1:05 pm The Atlantic Wire, which has contributed some valuable updates of its own in past days, returns with lengthy look at several subjects (that I’ve already covered) but also a little background on notable corruption in Steubenville’s past. Some thirty years ago I wrote a book on “whistleblowers” in which one chapter was devoted to the sheriff of the county right across the river in Weirton. He risked his life busting local corruption and illegal gambling—got promoted to US Marshal, and then got busted himself.
11:30 am Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, under pressure, says his office still looking at possible additional prosecutions but seems to throw cold water on this with this statement: “There is a difference between being insensitive and doing immoral things and committing a crime. And what I am confined to by Ohio law is what is a crime and what is not a crime.” Is not intervening to halt a crime in process right in front of your eyes not a crime in Ohio?
10:05 am To show how heated things have gotten: A “Mr. Jett” with Facebook charge that “masked people” threw things at his “honor roll athlete” son and he ponders tearing arms off them.
10 Yes, there’s one of those petitions that compel some response from the White House and it has virtually reached its goal. Meanwhile, another local woman wants to speak out on being raped by kids—back in the 1960s.
9:10 am Winston Ross of The Daily Beast with a new report, including chat with one of the Anonymous folks, a visit to the Spot Bar and some new alleged info from attorneys (an adult at one of the parties, not at another, etc.). Ross gives equal time to defenders and protesters.
8:45 am Everything you’d ever want to know about “roofies.”