Hacker pleads guilty to charges tied to Ohio high-school rape case
By – The Washington Times – Friday, November 25, 2016
A hacktivist accused of targeting the website of a Steubenville, Ohio high school football team in order to draw attention to a rape case involving two of its athletes pleaded guilty in federal court this week to a pair of related charges.
Deric Lostutter, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiring to illegally access a computer without authorization and one count of lying to an FBI agent, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Mr. Lostutter, a Kentucky native, told a judge in Lexington this week that he had targeted a website affiliated with Steubenville High School’s football team after learning that two of its athletes were being investigated for raping a teenage girl in Aug. 2012.
“We wanted to stand up for a girl who had no voice and we went about it the wrong way,” Mr. Lostutter said in court Wednesday, according to WTVQ, a local ABC affiliate.
Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Lostutter participated in an online campaign being waged against the school in late 2012 under the banner of the hacktivist group Anonymous. Beginning in Dec. 2012, prosecutors said Mr. Lostutter used the alias “KYAnonymous” to conspire online with other hacktivists with the goal of intimidating and harassing an individual who ran a website dedicated to the football team, eventually gaining unauthorized access to their target’s website and leaking its owner’s personal emails online.
Amplified by the social media accounts of other so-called Anons, the operation against the school undoubtedly helped propel the Steubenville rape case into the national spotlight. It also spurred a FBI investigation, however, and resulted in Mr. Lostutter being questioned over his participation not long after the campaign got off the ground.
Mr. Lostutter pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping plot that campaign as well as lying about his role when he was initially interviewed by the FBI. He faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and $250,000 in fines when he’s sentenced in March.
“This is not a situation where somebody, you know, hacked a hospital or took down a nuclear power plant. This was an act of political protest about the rape of a 16-year-old girl,” his attorney, Tor Ekeland, previously told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Former Steubenville athletes Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, both 16 at the time of the rape, were convicted and sentenced in 2013 to one and two years behind bars, respectively, but have since been released.
Noah McHugh, Mr. Lostutter’s co-conspirator, previously pleaded guilty to hacking the Steubenville website and is slated to be sentenced in December.