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Ohio School Community at Center of Controversy Threatened by Cyber Attacks

By guest blogger Mike Bock

By now you might have heard about a controversy in Steubenville, Ohio, where two teenage students, both of whom are members of the dominant Steubenville High School football team, are awaiting trial on charges of having raped a 16-year-old girl at a party last August.

But even though the alleged incident took place off school property, it has, perhaps not surprisingly, roiled emotions in and around 1,700-student Steubenville High School—and in the school's online community. Steubenville High School's unofficial football team website, www.rollredroll.com, was targeted on December 23 in a cyber attack. An online hacking group, Anonymous, took responsibility for the attack and demanded an apology from community members, claiming there had been a cover-up of the incident. Ohio's WTOV9 reported that Mike McVey, Superintendent of Steubenville City Schools, has contacted state and federal officials about the incident.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that the district was placed on lockdown after a potential threat to students' safety was issued via social media. McVey made the decision to hire unarmed security guards, and police offers were called in to search the school and determine whether the threat was viable.

According to a police report, a student at Steubenville High School described seeing a Facebook post indicating a potential threat, a police report said. According to the Associated Press, the post, which could not be retrieved, referenced people not charged in the case and directed them to come to a certain location, or "I am going to start killing people," the report said.

The incident garnered national attention earlier this month when a hacker released a 12-minute video online showing local teenagers joking about the alleged rape. One student featured in the video has since dropped out of Ohio State University, citing online harassment.

The video was found by Anonymous, which CNN reports began attacking the Steubenville community in an effort to draw attention to the case. Anonymous claims to be compiling detailed information about the personal affairs of football boosters and others in Steubenville who the hacking group claims are connected to the case. The group also said it is planning a protest "to help those who have been victimized by the football team or other regimes," CNN reported.

Steubenville Police Chief William McCafferty told CNN he does not think the community has been portrayed fairly, and that law enforcement has conducted a thorough investigation.

"I think they have made our community look like something that its not. It's a very good community," the chief said, referring to critics of the investigation. "Nobody condones rape, nobody condones lawlessness."

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