STEUBENVILLE - A video some say is tied to the upcoming rape trial of two city high school student-athletes went viral Wednesday, just as a planned rally about the trial scheduled for noon Saturday picks up speed.
The 12-and-one-half-minute video of a former Steubenville City High School student-athlete appeared on YouTube Wednesday morning and quickly spread across the Internet, popping up on Facebook.com, Twitter.com and other social media sites.
Some are saying the video is tied to the students' upcoming trial, which is set for Feb. 13 before visiting Judge Tom Lipps. The alleged rape of the underage girl allegedly occurred Aug. 11-12.
Last week, the Internet hacktivist group Anonymous took over a local, privately owned sports site, www.rollredroll.com, where the group posted a video and links to information surrounding individuals it asserted were allegedly involved in the incident. The group also posted the names and other personal information taken from social networking sites they assert is proof others were allegedly involved.
Last Saturday, a rally in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse - dubbed OpRollRedRoll - drew between 300 and 400 people, protesting what they say should have been additional arrests made in connection with the alleged crime. Another rally is planned for noon this Saturday, again in front of the courthouse. As of Wednesday, more than 1,200 people had committed to attend on a Facebook invite page. Attempts to reach organizers concerning this Saturday's planned rally have been unsuccessful.
The video released Wednesday shows the former student-athlete joking in a crude manner about what some on social media were assuming and asserting is the alleged rape. The word "rape" is used several times in the video. There are no indications where or when the video was filmed, and it's unclear who posted it on YouTube. The video prompted an outcry when posted on social media sites, and several webzines and other sites, including the Huffington Post, had picked up on the story by Wednesday evening. Cable news network CNN also broadcast a short segment about the alleged incident this morning.
A private website dedicated to the case, www.occupysteubenville.com, includes links with messages from Anoymous, media reports on the case, blogs, interviews with local authorities and even apparel for sale. Also, a petition on the White House's website demanding additional individuals be arrested in the case had gathered more than 3,000 signatures as of this morning.
As reported in The Intelligencer Oct. 13, a probable cause hearing Oct. 12 included testimony in the case by several eyewitnesses to the alleged rape, and led to the judge finding there was probable cause for a trial to proceed.
During the hearing, three fellow Steubenville High School students testified about the incident. Lipps advised the teens of their rights not to incriminate themselves through testimony. Two of the teens had attorneys present when they were testifying.
Joann Gibbs, a forensic analyst of digital media with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, said she looked at 15 cell phones and two iPads that were submitted by City Police following search warrants were executed. She said Apple iPhones with later generation operating systems make it impossible to recover files that are deleted. Gibbs testified she did recover two naked pictures of the victim that were part of text messages sent on Mays' cell phone.
Those involved in the incident were at three separate houses during the night of Aug. 11, testimony indicated. There was testimony the victim was highly intoxicated and throwing up at various locations.