You’ve no doubt heard of this story by now: two high school football players (ages 17 and 15) in the town of Maryville, MO, were accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 14 and 13, at a party. They were both arrested — one, the 17-year-old, on suspicion of rape. Despite a seemingly large pile of evidence, including a video shot by one of the boys’ friends — and, allegedly, a confession — the county prosecutor dropped the felony cases for “lack of evidence.” (See update below).
Since then, the family of one of the girls was forced to move out of town due to harassment, and even after they had moved, their house was burned down. Charges of corruption are flying this way and that, especially considering that one of the boys involved is the grandson of an ex-Missouri state representative.
This, apparently, has riled the hacker group Anonymous, who today vowed to get involved with a “Twitterstorm package”.
Excerpts from the Anonymous message:
Greetings, world. We are #OpMaryville.
Two young girls have been raped in the town of Maryville, Missouri. Another high school football star, the grandson of a Missouri state official, has walked free. The people of Maryville turned their backs on these victims and one family has been forced to flee the town. Their house was later burned to the ground. …
If Maryville won’t defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them. Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us.
Originated as a sort of online vigilante group in 2003, Anonymous’ first missions were harassing the Church of Scientology and hacking various corporate sites such as MasterCard and Sony. But lately, Anonymous members (who wear Guy Fawlkes masks when appearing online or in public) have ratcheted up the social vigilantism. More from their message:
Raise Awareness in social media, put pressure on Attorney General Chris Koster to launch an investigation into the lack of charges against Matthew Barnett (despite a confession and evidence of his guilt), and promote that on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 10:00am we will meet at the Nodaway County Courthouse in Maryville, Missouri with daisies in our hands for a peaceful protest in support of Daisy Coleman.
In March of 2011 it was Anonymous that claimed responsibility for taking down a school web site in Australia, in the case of “Casey the Punisher.” Casey Heynes, a 16-year-old who had been habitually bullied at school, was suspended after fighting back one day and throwing his tormenter against a concrete walkway. Excerpt from that message:
“We have had enough of this bigotry. They failed at providing a violence-free environment for their students, and when Zangief Kid (Casey) took things in his own hands they b****slapped him for defending himself.”
Casey became an international celebrity, and his days of being bullied were over.
UPDATE: A special prosecutor will take another look at the case, it was reported today).