Anonymous Vs. Steubenville

Online vigilante Deric Lostutter helped expose the cover-up in the Steubenville rape case. Now he's facing more jail time than the convicted rapists.

Deric Lostutter, Hacker, Steubenville, Ohio
Thomas Prior
Anonymous' Deric Lostutter
By |

On November 25th, the most notorious rape case in recent memory took yet another shocking twist. In Steubenville, Ohio, where a 16-year-old girl was raped by two high school football players in August 2012, a grand jury indicted the city's School Superintendent, Michael McVey, on felony charges of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. An elementary school principal and two coaches in the district were indicted as well, facing misdemeanor charges including failure to report child abuse and making false statements.

Shortly after the news hit that morning, Deric Lostutter, a skinny, scruffy 26-year-old programmer in Lexington, Kentucky, whipped out his cell phone and texted me a message. "We were called liars and more," he wrote, but "we were right about it." He had reason to feel vindicated. As one of the most notorious members of the hacker collective, Anonymous, Lostutter battled to bring justice to Steubenville, exposing secrets of a town that's still reeling from the fallout today. He just never expected that he'd get raided by the FBI, and face more prison time than the rapists in the end.

Anonymous is a purposefully chaotic and leaderless collective. Anyone can proclaim themselves a member or declare an "operation" against a target. But getting others to give a shit is another story. For every Anon who spawns a successful Op against The Church of Scientology or the New York Stock Exchange, countless others watch their YouTube manifestos disappear in a stream of grumpy cats.

This is what makes Lostutter stand out. Less than two months after creating his alter ego as KYAnonymous, he launched and organized two of group's most renowned and righteous operations yet: battling the Westboro Baptist Church and, most famously, the town of Steubenville, Ohio, after the high-profile rape of a teenage girl by players on the high school football team.

Seemingly overnight, Lostutter fueled a nobler strain of operations called Justice Ops. For a group often perceived as the Jackasses of the Internet, it was a radical rebranding. But Lostutter also became a target himself, attacked both by Anons, who dismissed him as a "fame fag," and the Steubenville elite who rejected him as a criminal punk. "We're a small city, we don't have any money," Steubenville police chief William McCafferty told me, "so if this KY messes up our computer system, that's something we have to pay for." As Steubenville and other fights heat up, Lostutter refuses to back down. "They're gonna have to lock me up if they think that I ain't gonna stand up for some people ever again," he says, "So, fuck that."

On a hot summer night at a strip mall bar called Woody's, Winchester's most famous outlaw introduces me to his Kentucky town's other claim to infamy: beer cheese, a gooey orange concoction which has its own festival every year on the ghostly main street. Behind him, a few burly southerners in unironic trucker hats play sandbag horseshoes, as a dirty-blonde woman in tight jeans blankly puffs a smoke.

When I ask Lostutter what he'd like to tell the people, like those in Steubenville, who slag off Anonymous as cyberterrorists, he nods to the scene here. "I'd say, 'Come visit me in Kentucky. I'll show you the most American place you can ever be,'" he says, "You know, everybody's like, 'Are you anti-government?' I'm like, 'Fuck no. I'm anti-bullshit.'"

Growing up "poor and nerdy" in the small town of King, North Carolina, Lostutter was a bullied kid from a broken family, beaten at home and at school. To cope with the divorce of his mom and dad — a tower guard at the local prison, famous as a location for the Blues Brothers movie — he escaped into computers, teaching himself to code. Though he could build his own motherboard, he couldn't hack school, where, scrawny and shy, he became a frequent target.

But he had a nascent vigilante inside him. After seeing a bully dangerously punch a kid with a bad lung in the chest, Lostutter "just snapped," he says, slugging the bully so hard that his tooth busted through his lip. Then one day, he came home to find his mom getting beaten by her boyfriend. Lostutter went ballistic, grabbing a knife and piercing the guy in the stomach. Referring to another violent episode, he says, swilling his bourbon, "I spent the next four days cleaning blood off the floor. That pretty much changed me from the quiet nerdy kid to what I am now. And I haven't been able to shut it off since."

Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey (Photo: Michael D. McElwain/Steubenville Herald-Star/AP Photo)

Lostutter had to drop out of high school and help support his mom and brother by working instead. After a tough break-up, he spent several months homeless and drunk, then floundering in odd jobs after moving with his mom to Kentucky. When he saw the documentary, We are Legion, about Anonymous, on YouTube last summer, he identified with the portrayal of underdog geeks fighting the Man. "I watched that and I just went ppffff," he tells me, splaying his fingers on either side of his head like an exploding bomb. "My mind was blown," he says, "I was like, 'there's people out there like me, thousands of people out there like me.'"

It didn't take long for Lostutter to become Anonymous. He bought a cheap Guy Fawkes mask on eBay, and opened a Twitter and a Facebook account under the nickname KYAnonymous. There was no initiation to endure nor dues to pay to join the group. Like anyone else, he was in simply because he said so. But a $2 costume and a social network weren't enough to make a difference in his or anyone else's life. He needed an Operation. 

Lostutter didn't have to look far to find some bullshit to rally against. The Clark County, Kentucky, school board was embroiled in controversy over allegedly mishandled funds and a superintendent who allegedly fired a football coach for not playing her grandson. (The superintendent denied those allegations.) But despite stories of rats in the cafeteria and untreated black mold at an elementary school, nothing changed in the small town. And, like a self-ordained superhero with a new mask and a mission, Lostutter thought the power of Anonymous could help win. "Bullying pisses me off," he says, "even workplace bullying."

Anonymous Operations begin with a declaration — usually either by a video manifesto on YouTube or a post on Internet forums. One night last fall after getting home from his job as a car mechanic, Lostutter launched his first one, OpEducation, posting as KYAnonymous that the school board had "put the students second and monetary gain first," but now Anonymous was on the case. He included a list of the school board member's family names, cell phone numbers, and home addresses — a bit of hacking known as a "dox" — to prove it.

Lostutter had tapped a vein of outrage that needed a masked avenger, and received damning files — internal emails, expense reports, and other incriminating records about the district — which he then disseminated online. Some thought his methods reckless, and Twitter suspended his account for distributing doxes. But when superintendent Elaine Farris eventually retired after being "under fire from a citizen's group," as the local paper put it, Lostutter chalked up his first victory.

It wouldn't be his last. When a friend told him that an ex-boyfriend had posted a naked picture of her on a revenge porn site run by a swashbuckling scumbag named Hunter Moore, he had his next target. On November 30, 2012, KYAnonymous tweeted a threat to Moore that Anonymous would be shutting down his site if he didn't do it himself. But Moore only incited him back by replying "try it." The next day, KY posted a dox of Moore and declared a OpHuntHunter against him. "Sad part is that could be your friends sons or daughters or brothers and sisters that get victimized by @huntermoore," KY tweeted. When the Op went viral, instantly taking down Moore and his sites, one blogger credited KY with ushering in a new phase of Anonymous. "It sure seems like the White Knight faction of Anonymous is ascendant," he wrote. 

Anonymous' Deric Lostutter (Photo: Thomas Prior)

For Lostutter, his fledgling life in Kentucky suddenly had purpose. "I kind of felt like I was meant for something more," he says, "And then I get involved in Anonymous, I'm like 'This is what the hell I'm meant to do.' I was just like a pitbull, anything that pissed me off, I was after." On December 15, he found his next target: Westboro Baptist Church, who announced a plan to protest the vigil for the children killed in the Newtown school shooting.

That night, he went into his living room alone to record a YouTube manifesto for what he called OP Westboro. "The basis of any good Op is a video," he says, a "good enough video that catches people's attention and gets them riled up and then, once that happens, it's kind of like poking at a beehive. You know? They all come out." Lostutter stuck with Anonymous' Orwellian cinematic style, dubbing a computerized rant over a video of rumbling dark clouds. "Hello Westboro Baptist Church," Lostutter began, "Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Anonymous." He railed against the Church's "pseudo-faith" and "hatred," warning that "your downfall is underway." 

But finding a hot-button Op didn't mean the faceless legions had his back. As the Westboro video spread, influential sites such as Your Anonymous News cautioned against it. "One idiot has decided to post a press release against Westboro?" The site's webmaster posted, "I have a bad feeling about this operation. Everyone's watching us now, but this bullshit is taking away valuable resources that could be used, you know, actually fighting dictators, not failtrolls? THINK BEFORE YOU SAY SOMETHING STUPID." However, it went on, "there's no way Anonymous can go back on it's word now."

That weekend, Anonymous doxed what it claimed to be every adult member of the Westboro Church, and took down the Church's website, God Hates Fags, as well. They also urged Anons to sign a petition against Westboro's tax-exempt status. As Westboro planned its rally at Newtown, Anons tweeted the address of the Motel 6 where the group was staying. Lostutter organized the rally which he called Occupy Newtown, soliciting the help of plainclothes cops, as well as Hell's Angels, to form a human wall around the funeral. The protest of Newtown made international news, and further catapulted the mysterious hacker known as KYAnonymous into the spotlight. But while Lostutter watched the reaction with great satisfaction, he was careful to remain in the shadows. "That's the first rule of Anonymous," he says, "don't trust anybody."

It was a couple nights before Christmas in Lostutter's farmhouse, and not a creature was stirring. As his girlfriend and brother slept, he took his Guy Fawkes mask out from under his clothes in his bottom drawer and slipped quietly into the living room. Opening his laptop and aiming his webcam toward him, he pulled the mask over his face, and pulled his black hoodie down above it. Then he hit record on his computer, and began shifting his head from side to side, silently, as if he were talking. He made sure to "look intimidating," he recalls.

While Lostutter had recorded Op videos for Anonymous in the past, this time he was recording the first one in which he, as KY, would make his debut. Lostutter spent about a half hour crafting his words, which he ran through a text-to-speech program, Cepstral David, to disguise his voice. He matched the audio track along with his video of him gesticulating in his Guy Fawkes mask. "Greetings citizens of the world, We are Anonymous," he began, "Around mid-August 2012 a party took place in a small town in Ohio known as Steubenville…"

The week before, he had read a New York Times story about the rape of a 16-year-old girl and its alleged cover-up in this small town. "The more I found out, the more angry I got," he recalls, "what really got me heated is her friends and everybody else's friends stood around and watched this shit happen, and nobody did a fucking thing." After fuming about the case on Twitter earlier that week, he was contacted by a woman who not only shared his outrage, but thought that KY, given his success against Moore and Westboro, could help the cause.

Michelle McKee, a sexual abuse survivor and activist, along with her friend, Alexandria Goddard, a crime blogger who'd grown up in the town, had been trying in vain to stir up media attention about Steubenville. Goddard, however, who blogged online under the name Prinnie, had been hit with a defamation lawsuit by the family of Cody Saltsman, one of the high school footballers involved in posting a photo of the victim from the night of the incident on Twitter. McKee passed along incriminating tweets and photos they'd been getting from Steubenville. "Thanks," KY replied, "we'll take it from here.'"

For Lostutter, Steubenville had echoes of Westboro, Moore, and his own mother's domestic abuse. Just as he fought back against bullies in high school, he now wanted to use his newfound powers of Anonymous to strike back on behalf of the rape victim, known simply as Jane Doe. Calling his operation Op RollRedRoll, after the football team's slogan, he christened his Anonymous troops as KnightSec, as in White Knight, and cued up his webcam.

When posting an Op video, one risks a certain embarrassment — namely that no one will give a shit or take it seriously. But, like a deft poker player, Lostutter amped up his manifesto with a bluff. He claimed that Anonymous had already doxed "everyone involved" with the cover-up and crime — parents, teachers, and kids — and were going to release their private information online "unless all accused parties come forward by New Years Day and issue a public apology to the girl and her family." Though he knew Anonymous could deliver if need be, this wasn't his hope. "Our goal wasn't to hack," he tells me, "Our goal was to get the attention of higher authorities to get involved in Steubenville." So he posted the manifesto on YouTube, and went to sleep.

The next morning he woke up to a tweet from an Anon, who told KY she'd seen him on TV on Fox News while she was running on a treadmill at the gym. Lostutter quickly fired up his laptop, and saw something surprising: the Steubenville booster club website, RollRedRoll.com, had been hacked, and now his Op RollRedRoll video was the front page. "I thought it was fucking awesome," he says.

 

Noah McHugh, a hacker from Virginia Beach who tweeted under the name @JustBatCat, took responsibility for compromising the site, which was just a simple matter of guessing the password — the name of the football team — in, he later said, "about 15 minutes." McHugh worked for the Department of Defense as a computer technician and boasted that this made him beyond reproach. "It's not a government site or anything," he tweeted, "It would be the same as me hacking into a Wordpress. Not much the cops do about it." (McHugh did not respond to interview requests for this story).

Though Lostutter insists he didn't do any hacking himself, he swiftly aligned himself with McHugh as another member of KnightSec. The next day, Lostutter uploaded the second of its one-two punch against the football team: a video revealing that "we have gained access" to the Steubenville high web sites, as well as the personal emails of the Roll Red Roll webmaster, Jim Parks, which, they claimed, included photos of young girls. KnightSec called on the police to investigate "possible child porn" in Parks' account, and speculated that Parks might be paying the football "team to go to different parties and send him pics of girls they take advantage of." (KnightSec's claims turned out to be baseless. Anonymous later apologized to Parks after the FBI stated that the girls were over 18-years-old.)

Parks replaced Lostutter's video on the football club site with his own message to Anonymous, denying their "outrageous claims" and calling them "a terrorist group…simply [out] to get media attention and terrorize the Steubenville community." But in that combustible way that only happens online, KY went viral again. CNN, Fox, ABC, and other major news sites picked up the story. YouTube views of Lostutter's manifesto skyrocketed, along with his Twitter subscribers, which soared over 35,000.

Roseanne Barr championed Lostutter on her blog and radio show. "He's been through a lot in his own childhood, I feel compassion for him," she tells me, "I think he's brave."

With the support of celebrities, civilians, and well known Anons, Lostutter quickly organized two rallies in Steubenville called Occupy Steubenville, on behalf of the victim. On December 29, over 1000 people gathered outside the courthouse in Steubenville for KY's protest. Many donned Guy Fawkes masks, and took to a microphone to voice their support and share their stories. In a dramatic turn, some of them spoke of their own sexual assaults and rapes, removing their masks to show themselves to the crowd.

Among the attendees was Brandon Sadler, a family friend of Jane Doe's who spoke with the victim and later shared her message to KY and the other Anons. "She said she was very thankful we [had] Anonymous along," he wrote, "…she was happy we remained here..we were her voice..she didn't need to speak..she was aware of that. She has been reading all the tweets and messages of love and support from members of Anonymous and the world and she is very grateful."

Lostutter didn't have the money to go himself, and figured it'd be dangerous to do so anyway. But back at his farmhouse in Winchester, he followed the live streams of the event with pride, so much so that he got "big-headed," he says. He was just some guy in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky but with push of button he could unleash an army. "I could literally tweet out something and get 100 replies and then I could say 'Hey I need this' and I'd get shit tweeted to me," he says, "It was like I had 1000 assistants, you know, it was nuts."

When one Steubenviller threatened to find KY and kick his ass, Lostutter flamed him back. "Hey I'm running your whole town from the comfort of my toilet," he tweeted, "How's that feel?"

As the clock ticked down to New Year's Eve, the world was waiting to see if the Steubenville players would cave in to KYAnonymous' threat and apologize — or face the wrath of having their personal information leaked online. But just before the deadline reached, Jane Doe herself intervened, telling KY, through Sadler, that she didn't want the innocent people on the team to suffer. Lostutter reassured Sadler that the dox threat was just a scare tactic all along. "I had a bigger bombshell than that anyway," he tells me.

Not long before, he had received a video file from a mysterious person on Twitter. The 12 minute clip showed Michael Nodianos, a former Steubenville jock, drunkenly joking about the rape on the night of the attack, referring to the victim repeatedly as the "dead girl." He said, "they raped her harder than that cop raped Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction" and "peed on her. That's how you know she's dead, because someone pissed on her." Through his lawyer, Nodianos later apologized.

On January 2, Lostutter uploaded the video to several sites in case any came down. The outrage went instantly viral, with the major news site and blogs linking to the post. Later that day, a site called Local Leaks released a massive dump of what it called "the Steubenville Files," alleging various crimes and misdeeds among prominent members of the town. A new timeline of the rape, based on allegedly inside accounts, said the girl had been drugged then dragged from party to party to be abused. They also unearthed tweets of Cody Saltsman writing of the victim that he had "never seen anything this sloppy lol" and "I have no sympathy for whores." As Lostutter says, "There's literally, like, no hacking required to know how much of a jackass these people are." Saltsman later apologized for the tweets and his posting.

But for the targets of Anonymous' operation in Steubenville, it felt defamatory. "A lot of what they were saying wasn't true, and they attacked people," says McCafferty, who was getting death threats on Facebook and having his own email hacked. One private photo of him, taken on a cruise ship, was released showing him in nothing but a lacy thong. "They said that picture was taken at gay bar in Steubenville," McCafferty says, "me and my wife laughed. Who in the hell would walk around downtown Steubenville without shoes on?"  

Activists from the online group Anonymous protest at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Steubenville, Ohio on December 29th, 2013. (Photo: Michael D. McElwain/Steubenville Herald-Star/AP Photo)

As reports circulated of people, dressed in Guy Fawkes masks, accosting Steubenville locals and throwing rocks at their homes, the backlash set in. "Hey guys," Roseanne Barr tweeted, "let's take a step back 4 a day or 2-we don't want to destroy any more young ppl's lives. Let the police do their duty. #dueprocess."

Lostutter took to the Net, urging people to abide by Jane Doe's wishes. 'This is not what she wants and we don't endorse this," he told them, "This is not Anonymous." But he knew better than anyone that there was little he could do to close Pandora's Box. "Anonymous is the Internet and you can't control the Internet," he says, "…they're fucking renegades, dude, and a lot of them are 15, 16-year-old kids. You can't tell them motherfuckers nothing."

And they were now coming after him. All the attention on KYAnonymous was violating the Anonymous dictum that the group had no leaders. Your Anon News declared that it would no longer be linking to his updates. A group called Team Intricate promised to expose KY's true identity, a threat to which Lostutter challenged them to make good on within 24 hours. The group responded with a full dox on the man they claimed to be him, Kyle Fields. "Kyle Fields is a ego-fag noob," they posted, "This guy does not know the first thing about security." But in fact Fields had been a decoy of Lostutter's, who posted the fake dox himself online early to throw them off his trail. "You fake fuckers!" he replied to the hackers.

But by the time of the second Occupy Steubenville rally, on January 5th, Lostutter was on a full blown misinformation campaign to preserve his identity — both from Anonymous and the Steubenville police. He led people to believe that he was at the rally himself, even though he had not left his home. During an online interview, he talked about how great the snow looked outside his window at the Super 8 hotel Steubenville — which sent hackers scurrying for the Internet Protocol address at that location. Later as the rally got underway, he posted that "I wonder if Sheriff Abdalla knows that I can reach out and tap him on the shoulder right now." Cops began pulling people in Guy Fawkes masks over, trying to find KY — but to no avail.

But all the chaos was wearing on Lostutter. He wasn't sleeping, barely eating, and increasingly prone to panic attacks. One night, he was sitting beside his girlfriend on the couch at home when he saw a Skype interview he had done, in his Fawkes mask and disguised voice, for the Anderson Cooper show on CNN. Hannah had no idea it was him but voiced her support for the protesters and disgust over the rapists. "What they did to that girl was bullshit," she told him. 

As much as Lostutter wanted to reveal himself to her that night, to share his stress, his fears, his hopes, he thought better of it. "Everybody in Anonymous gets raided at one point or another if they're halfway even good at what they do," he tells me, "So I knew it would eventually come and the less she knew, the better. The less anybody knew, the better."

Later in January, Lostutter got a tip from someone he trusted online that he was being watched by the FBI. If it was true, it didn't surprise him given his white hot spree of high-profile operations. But he wasn't taking any chances. Logging online as KYAnonymous, he tweeted that he was going dark for a while. Minutes later, he got a cryptic tweet from an unknown account. "Why would you do that, Derek Lostutter of Winchester, Kentucky?" It read.

 "Oh fuck," Lostutter thought. No one knew KY's real name. And if they did, why did they wait for this moment to reveal it? Lostutter quickly deleted the message but then another ominous tweet came in. This one included a picture he had previously posted of himself posing in his Guy Fawkes mask. He had taken the shot out by the road, where he happened to be standing next to his Bates Home Security sign. The tweet also included a picture of his farmhouse, taken from the road, with the same sign in front. Whomever did this was clearly sending him a message — they knew who he was and where he lived — and going dark online wouldn't change that. 

Lostutter felt his heart race, his throat constrict, and a panic attack gripping him again. Before anyone else came home, he stormed upstairs and ripped open a dresser drawer, fishing his Anonymous gear out from under a pile of clothes: his flag, his mask, the stickers he'd plastered around town in the dead of night. With Thor barking behind him, Lostutter ran outside and tossed the stuff into his fire pit, dousing it with gasoline. If his girlfriend or brother came home and saw the blaze, he figured, they wouldn't be suspicious. "In Kentucky," he tells me, "we burn shit all the time."

The fire incinerated the flag, which was green and had Anonymous' logo of a faceless man in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie in the middle. The stickers melted in a gluey sheets, and the flames shot through the smiling eyeholes of the plastic Fawkes face, the same one that he wore the night he made his Steubenville video. But just because this stuff was going up in flames didn't mean his alter ego was too. "You don't need a mask to be Anonymous," Lostutter says.

Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond sit at the defense table before the start of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio. (Photo: Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Lostutter was vacationing with his girlfriend in Florida in March when he heard that 17-year-old Trent Mays and 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond were convicted for the Steubenville rape. But they only received the minimum sentences — one year for Richmond, and an additional one for Mays for distributing nude pictures of the victim. Though Lostutter appreciated that some justice had been served, he considered the sentences "a slap on the wrist" and still wanted to see other alleged conspirators that night prosecuted.

The next morning, April 17, after hunting turkey, he came back home to take a shower and heard a truck roll up his driveway. He assumed it was UPS delivering a t-shirt he'd ordered from a gun dealer, but a SWAT team stormed inside instead. "Get the fuck down!" They shouted, cuffing Lostutter as Thor helplessly watched. Awakened by the noise, Lostutter's brother stormed downstairs with his .45, thinking a robber had broken in, only to be cuffed too. As the cops turned the house upside down looking for what they called "anti-American" contraband, Lostutter told them, in his southern drawl, "I guess I know why you're here."

Lostutter claims he was not shown a warrant before the raid, nor was he Mirandized. As they showed him alleged correspondence between him and McHugh, they said they'd been watching him since before Steubenville and that someone out there was "selling you down the river." He says they'd spent hours smashing through his property, busting out the windows of his RV looking for evidence. He also claims they told him never to tell anyone of this raid or he would face additional charges for destroying and tampering with evidence. (The FBI did not comment). 

When his girlfriend came home to the chaotic scene later that day, he finally broke down and told her of his secret identity as KYAnonymous. He had no idea how she'd react, but she threw her arms around him in support. "I think what he did was awesome," Hannah tells me, "he stood up for someone who no one else was." In that moment he felt something surprising, relief. "It's the most freeing fucking shit in the world," he says, "Like you're just living a double life and now you can just be you."

But the momentary relief turned to panic and outrage when Lostutter soon learned what they were after him for: hacking Jim Parks, despite McHugh's numerous admissions of having done that himself. Even worse, Lostutter couldn't believe what he was facing: 25 years in prison, he claims, more time than even the rapists themselves received. "I didn't hack. I didn't guess the password…I didn't do shit," he tells me, though he regrets any hardship Parks was caused along the way. What, if anything, does he think he's guilty of? "Standing up for good people," he says.

Despite the FBI's warning, Lostutter wouldn't sit down and stay silent. On June 6, he posted a message to his new site, ProjectKnightSec.com, introducing himself in the customary way of Anonymous. "Greetings Citizens of the World," he wrote. But now, for the first time publicly, he went by his real name. "I am Deric Lostutter," he typed, "and this is my story."

It was the blog heard around the world, as KYAnonymous's real identity finally became known, along with the details of his raid. For his opponents in the Steubenville case, the action against KY is comeuppance. "Everyone goes by prosecution guidelines," says McCafferty, "that's the way the legal system works." Even if Lostutter didn't do the hacking himself, blogger Lee Stranahan, who writes for the conservative Breitbart news and was among those who refuted KY's claims online, believes he's still guilty of calling the shots. "KY was the one who set up the conspiracy," he says, "He bragged about it. He talks too much."

But Lostutter now has powerful allies fighting on his behalf. His attorney is Tor Ekeland, a famed advocate for hacktivists such as Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, who was sentenced to 41 months in prison for hacking the iPad, and Matthew Keys, the social media editor for Reuters, who has been indicted for allegedly helping Anonymous hack his former employer. Both, like Lostutter (and Jeremy Hammond, who recently was sentenced to 10 years in prison for hacking the global intelligence firm Stratfor) were prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "I understand having the CFAA apply to real hacking but name me the victims in the Swartz case, Weev's case, and Lostutter's case," Ekeland says. Then why go after Lostutter at all? "He's high profile," Ekeland says, "I think anything that has to do with Anonymous scare the hell out of the DOJ. Hackers are the new communists." 

Anonymous' Deric Lostutter (Photo: Thomas Prior)

But while Lostutter awaits his indictment, he's still fighting the fight against Steubenville, posting new leaks and information, and raising donations for his legal defense, on ProjectKnightSec. He has also been posting regularly on behalf of Operation Maryville, the campaign for a 14-year-old rape victim, Daisy Coleman, which is still ongoing. Several hundred protesters, including Anons in Guy Fawkes masks carrying daisies, recently gathered in Maryville's town square demanding justice. 

There was one more rally in Ohio too, but this time it wasn't Lostutter's doing. It was organized on his behalf by Demand Progress, the activist organization co-founded by Swartz, and UltraViolet, the women's rights group. For UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary, his prosecution is "horrifying," she tells me, "This is rape culture at work. Deric helped expose a horrible crime and cover-up, and he is facing five times more jail time than the rapists? It's disgusting and it's a wake up call for our entire nation."

Unbeknownst to Lostutter, the two groups had launched an online petition in his defense, and gathered over 400,000 signatures. Now they invited him to come with them to Columbus hand it over, in person, to the Ohio Attorney General. "'That sounds cool," he told them. He'd go, but on one condition. "I'll need armed security," he said, "People want to kill me."

They agreed to his request. Lostutter went on eBay and bought a new Guy Fawkes mask for $10. He drove up to Columbus with his brother and his girlfriend. Outside the Attorney General's office, Anons had gathered to support him. From behind his Guy Fawkes mask, Lostutter thanked the crowd then removed it to show his face at last. "I feel more powerful speaking with the mask off," he says, "'cause it's, like, me."