The felony computer hacking case brought against a man accused of participating in an online campaign waged in response to the 2012 rape of a teenage girl in Steubenville, Ohio, will move forward following hacktivist Deric Lostutter’s entering of a not guilty plea Wednesday in federal court.
Mr. Lostutter, 29, is accused of hacking a website operated by a fan of the Steubenville High School football team after it was revealed that two of its athletes were being investigated for raping an incapacitated 16-year-old girl in August 2012.
Beginning around four months later, prosecutors say Mr. Lostutter and others affiliated with Anonymous, the loose-knit hacktivist movement, waged an online campaign that saw the fan site being breached and its administrator’s personal emails publicly leaked.
Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier scheduled the matter to go to trial beginning Nov. 8 after Mr. Lostutter pleaded not guilty in a Lexington, Kentucky, courthouse Wednesday to four felony counts: making false statements to FBI agents, causing transmission of programs without authorization to damage a computer, accessing a computer to obtain information as part of crime and conspiring to commit offenses against the United States.
If convicted of all offenses, Mr. Lostutter faces a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison. Steubenville rapists Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays were ultimately convicted and sentenced to one and two years behind bars, respectively.
“You get 16 years for forcibly entering your way into a computer, but you get 1 year for forcibly entering your way into a woman,” Mr. Lostutter told Mic in an interview earlier this week. “I think that’s the precedent the government is setting here”
Defense attorney Tor Ekeland questioned what he called an “odd choice of prosecutorial discretion” while speaking to reporters outside of court Wednesday.
“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,” Mr. Ekeland said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
An individual charged with hacking the Steubenville site alongside Mr. Lostutter, Noah McHugh, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in federal court last week in connection with the cyber campaign. Mr. McHugh admitted in his plea deal to hacking into the football site by accessing its administrator’s email account by guessing the answer to their security question. He then reset the accounts’ settings and posted the pilfered emails to the website at Mr. Lostutter’s direction, according to the plea agreement.
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